TODAY'S PAPER
Overcast 52° Good Evening
Overcast 52° Good Evening
OpinionOpEd

My top 10 memories of David Letterman

Bill Clinton told David Letterman on May 12,

Bill Clinton told David Letterman on May 12, 2015 that he'd come back to the White House--if he is asked. Photo Credit: YouTube / Late Show with David Letterman

After 33 years hosting late-night television, David Letterman pulls off the ultimate "Stupid Human Trick" Wednesday -- he's vanishing from the airwaves. In honor of his last show, here are my top 10 memories of his late-night run:

10: Legendary singer Darlene Love, backed by Paul Shaffer's terrific band, belted out "Baby Please Come Home" at Christmas for years.

9: Mild-mannered Hello Deli proprietor Rupert Jee asked passersby obnoxious questions suggested by Letterman, hidden away in a van parked nearby, in fun segments called "Fun With Rupert."

8: Dave returned to the air less than a week after the 9/11 attacks, an inspiring night in which he saluted NYC firefighters, police and Mayor Rudy Giuliani, previously the butt of Dave's barbs. "We were told that they [the terrorists] were zealots fueled by religious fervor, religious fervor," he said. "And if you live to be a thousand years old, will that make any sense to you?"

7: Actor Joaquin Phoenix showed up with a bushy beard, mumbled his answers and appeared close to passing out. Dave ended the interview with, "Joaquin, I'm sorry you couldn't be here tonight."

6: Dave had integrity in not exploiting the O.J. Simpson murder trial for cheap laughs, while others had no problem doing so.

5: Dave devoted a show to his dying singer-songwriter friend Warren Zevon, despite knowing it would cost him in ratings.

4: A German shepherd read poetry, a pit bull bowled a strike, a border collie jumped double Dutch rope, and a Labrador retriever danced the merengue. Yes, I'm really going to miss stupid pet tricks!

3: We got to know Mujibur Rahman and Sirajul Islam, immigrants from Bangladesh who work at a souvenir shop and were recruited by Dave to do comedy bits. They were sent on a U.S. tour, greeted as celebrities and served as "Late Show" correspondents at Super Bowl XXIX.

2: On his first show after quintuple bypass surgery, Dave brought his doctors onstage to thank them. "I couldn't have been prouder when these guys carved their initials in me," Dave said.

1: Despite network pressure, he kept the show in NYC for its entire run!

Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.

Columns