“Our long national nightmare is over,” Gerald Ford’s most famous line, opened the last broadcast for David Letterman. This was then followed by a clip with almost every living U.S. president uttering those famous words. I’m sure Jimmy Carter would have joined in if he thought it was really necessary.
I am in the same boat with Jimmy Kimmel and his admiration for Dave. He asked his viewers not to watch his show on May 20th and, instead, to go see Dave’s last show. I start to think about all the good oddball times watching Dave and it stirs up emotions for me too. I’m from the same generation as Kimmel and I understand. That David Letterman sense of humor. Honed to perfection over the years. Dave made it look easy. That’s the same that was said of Johnny Carson.
Both Carson and Letterman provided a reserved kinetic energy that was perfect for the times. It’s hard to speak in the past tense regarding Dave and his work.
Even with all that’s been said and everything leading up to this last broadcast, it sort of caught me by surprise. Life happens. I had meant to watch the last couple of nights. I’d lost track. And then, there I am watching Dave’s last show. Well, he took it like a champ. No need to get misty-eyed or choke up. He’d planned ahead, paced himself. But the last show is the last show. He rolled a great montage of highlights from over the years. What showed through was a decent hard-working and humble guy.
The shows from the ’80s are legendary. The offbeat humor from those years has been dissected many times over. As one decade rolled into another, Dave continued to grow. The show’s humor calibrated itself by a hair or two like any other humor format. And Dave kept getting more real, more relaxed. They say it’s the end of an era and it’s true. David Letterman is one of those figures you have on a Mount Rushmore of Comedy. But his brand of humor lives on. He was one of the greats at being very serious about not taking things too seriously.