I’ve always thought you could learn a lot about a person by their preference on three things:
Coke or Pepsi
Mac or PC
Leno or Letterman
Over time, I’ve found they tend to group about the same way: Pepsi, PC, and Leno or Coke, Mac, and Letterman. The former are, in my estimation, the safer choices. Steady, predictable, round edges — nothing objectionable. The latter: sharper, edgier, more likely to throw something new your way.
I’m in the latter camp. Always drank Coke (usually cherry), had a Mac since before it was a Mac (an Apple II, to be precise), and I’ve watched Dave pretty much since he first strode onto the stage of The Ed Sullivan Theater.
Which is why I find myself feeling a bit reminiscent, and frankly, a bit sad about the Letterman era coming to a close. It’s not only that my preference test will no longer work; it’s that another true innovator is going away.
I don’t think you can truly appreciate what we’re losing without David Letterman until you fully appreciate everything we have as a result of him.
What truly remarkable Leno interview do you remember?
But do you remember Letterman’s evisceration of Joaquin Phoenix?
Did you ever hear someone say something dumb and think “Oh, they should be on Jay-Walking” before?
But what about seeing a pet do something wild and thinking “that belongs on Stupid Pet Tricks” at one point?
Or wanted to test something out in “Will It Float?”
Or really wanted a sandwich made by Rupert Jee?
Oh yeah, and a little thing called Top 10 Lists. Think about that for a minute — how ubiquitous they’ve become, from corporate presentations to birthday party gags. We owe all of that to Dave.
The genius of Mr. Letterman should be remembered that he didn’t do the common things. He was every bit to comedy what Steve Jobs was to technology. Parts of our everyday lives exist because David Letterman dreamed them up.
Sure, he didn’t win the “Late Night Wars,” but I’m not entirely sure he ultimately cared. Dave wasn’t built for everybody. The best comics rarely are.
I didn’t make it to CBS at 11:35 every night, but I can’t think of a night I did where I regretted it. And like so many things in life, I don’t know that I will truly appreciate how much I’ll miss finding that wry smile there to greet me until it’s gone.