History Main / DavidLetterman

5th Jan '13 1:29:15 PM MarkLungo
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->''"And now… a man who shouldn't be up this late… David Letterman!"''
-->-- Dave's first intro line from 1982.

->''"So, tell me Dave, just how pissed off are you?"''
->''"Johnny, you keep using language like that and you're [[GallowsHumor gonna find yourself out of a job!]]"''
-->-- '''Johnny Carson's''' opening question to Dave on Letterman's first ''[[TheTonightShow Tonight Show]]'' appearance after NBC made their decision.

David Letterman (born 1947) is a late-night TalkShow host famous for defining the genre in the post-[[TheTonightShow Johnny Carson]] era. Letterman's shows (''The David Letterman Show'' in 1980, ''LateNight'' from 1982-93, and ''The Late Show'' since then) came to be known as examples of the "[[PostModernism Anti-Talk Show]]", a show that is relentlessly [[LampshadeHanging self-aware]] and intent on deconstructing the conventions of the very medium that gives it life.

From the beginning, Letterman fashioned his persona as a smartass host that was "too hip" for the talk show format, and proceeded from there to make a mockery of the entire genre as a result — for instance, he would often barely hide his contempt for [[HatesTheJobLovesTheLimelight almost every aspect of show business]], from his producers and writers, to his wardrobe director, his celebrity guests, his sidekick Paul Shaffer, and [[SelfDeprecation even his own fame]]. All of this pales, however, in comparison to his loathing for hated "[[TheRival rival]]" Jay Leno, to whom he lost the coveted [[TheTonightShow ''Tonight Show'']] gig after Carson's retirement, a development about which he is still clearly bitter some two decades later.

Letterman took frequent shots at his network (first NBC, then CBS), and then his network's parent company when NBC was acquired by General Electric. He would intentionally bomb jokes in the monologue, and openly waste network airtime on ridiculous gags whose only purpose served to illustrate simply that, "[[SpringtimeForHitler Hey! I'm wasting NBC airtime here!]]" He eschewed the typical talk show uniform of a tailored suit in favor of a tie, a blazer, khakis...and white Adidas wrestling shoes.

He dropped random things off roofs, he blew random things up on-air, he staged impromptu audience competitions (in addition to showcasing Stupid Pet, and Human, Tricks), he used "viewer mail" segments as an excuse to break into various non sequitur-style sketches, he did stunts in a variety of ridiculous suits (made of velcro, tortilla chips, etc.), and essentially offered a biting parody of the [[HorribleHollywood Hollywood machine]] from the perspective of a Midwestern "everyman" who somehow found himself [[OnlySaneMan trapped inside the establishment]] at the height of its decadence.

As a side-effect, Letterman was sort of feared in the business when it came to interacting with the guests. He was intimidating, and could be somewhat mean to them. Until the late 1990s when he started to mellow down, it was fairly well-known that his only real friends in the business were WarrenZevon and JuliaRoberts. In one interview in the early 2000s, Roberts mentioned the fact that Letterman had softened up and that now every actress was a "lovely girl". Letterman's quip was "Oh, you know I'm just woofing."

Ironically, Letterman's influential "anti-talk show" sensibility ended up ''saving'' the talk show format as we know it at some point towards the end of Carson's stint as host of ''TheTonightShow''. Without Letterman mocking the genre in the 1980s, today's genre staples (especially ConanOBrien's shows) would likely not exist in their current form.


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!!This show provides examples of:
* AndyKaufman: Frequent guest in the show's early years (until he was too ill to make appearances) — even after the Jerry Lawler WorkedShoot, and even as Kaufman became persona non grata on other mainstream shows such as ''SaturdayNightLive''. Simply put, Kaufman's work suited Letterman's sensibilities perfectly.
* [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking Arson Murder And]]...[[LampshadeHanging umm]]...[[TheRival Jaywalking]]: As part of Letterman's subversion of the form, as a rule #1 is almost never the funniest joke in the Top Ten List. The studio audience will be [[ButThouMust applauding anyway]].
* AscendedExtra: Many members of he production staff and crew have become familiar faces to viewers and even been utilized in bits, such as stagehand Biff Henderson, production assistant Barbara Gaines, and former producer and director Hal Gurnee and Robert Morton, respectively.
* BigApplesauce: New York-based, unlike the LA-based ''Tonight Show''.
* BitingTheHandHumor: On ''Late Night'', Letterman constantly took shots at NBC and their parent company, General Electric. And he's poked plenty of fun at [=CBS=] since his channel hop.
-->'''Dave''' (''standing in front of a giant CBS eye'') Just between you and me...isn't that eye thing...kinda creepy?
* BodyHorror: "Things [[TakeThat More Fun]] Than Reading The SarahPalin Memoir" consists of BodyHorror StockFootage, mostly from old movies.
* BrickJoke: A relatively recent joke involving newly installed button on Dave's chair. He's told to press it - cue Dave getting blasted out of the building (everyone is then told he's okay). A couple of episodes later, Dave reveals that said button is still there. He pushes the button, and we [[ForegoneConclusion think we know what will happen next]], but instead, [[SubvertedTrope the head of the orchestra is blasted outside]]. Another push of the button, though, [[HistoryRepeats and Dave's right behind him]].
* TheBusCameBack: Dave made a number of guest appearences on ''Late Night with Conan O'Brien''.
* CallingTheOldManOut: Kirstie Alley got one over on Dave when she appeared on the Late Show in 2011. Having been a Woobie for Letterman in the past, particularly during her run on DancingWithTheStars, she brought with her Dave's cruelest jokes and repeated them back to him. The audience booed the jokes. May count as a CrowningMomentOfAwesome for Kirstie.
* CasanovaWannabe: Announcer Alan Kalter.
* CaptainErsatz: Chris Elliot's running characters The Fugitive Guy (''Series/TheFugitive'') and The Regulator Guy (''TheEqualizer'').
* CatchPhrase: Whenever the subject of drinks comes up, "I don't think there's a man, woman, or child alive today who doesn't enjoy a refreshing beverage."
** "How we doing on time?"
** "I wouldn't give my troubles to a monkey on a rock."
** (When a joke set-up has a fairly obvious punchline coming up) "I think we can all see this one coming down 2nd Avenue."
* ''{{Cats}}'': Shortly after moving to the Ed Sullivan Theatre, Dave would parody Sullivan's habit of introducing celebrities in the audience. One night he introduced a confused looking Paul Newman who stood up, said "Where the hell's all the singing ''Cats''?" and walked out.
* ChannelHop / ExecutiveMeddling: Pissed that NBC execs picked Jay Leno over him to host ''Tonight'', Letterman took his show to CBS, where he had to make a few changes for the 11:30 slot that seemed minor at first but ultimately ended his peak until NBC's Jay-vs-Conan meltdown in 2009.
** Carson himself never forgave NBC for picking Leno over Letterman, as he always thought that Letterman was the best choice to succeed him. As such, whenever Carson got an idea for a joke while in his retirement, he would send them to Letterman instead of Leno. And [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9i6A6LGwa4 Carson himself showed up on-air]], the applause was ''deafening''. Both men were clearly overwhelmed by it.
* ChewToy: Poor Alan Kalter (aka TheAnnouncer).
* CityOfWeirdos: A recurring Letterman gag is to see "How many guys in X costumes can fit in a Y?", trying to get a rise out of passers-by. People seldom react.
* ClusterFBomb: In 1994, {{Madonna}} dropped the F-word at least 13 times, which were all censored, during her interview, and tried to get Letterman to smell her panties.
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* CoattailRidingRelative: Dave makes the occasional joke about his uncle Larry trying to capitalize on his success.
* ComicBooks: Bizarrely, Letterman was in an issue of ''Comicbook/TheAvengers'' in 1984. A parody version of Letterman ("David Endochrine") was murdered (along with his audience) by SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker in FrankMiller's ''TheDarkKnightReturns''.
* ComplainingAboutThingsYouHaventPaidFor: Dave sometimes jokingly tries to preempt complaints from the studio audience saying things like "You didn't pay anything to get in here, you know."
** Also at the midpoint of the show, Letterman would announce the guests booked for the next episode. Sometimes the audience would boo softly if it was a big name guest, leading Dave to say "Oh? Something wrong with tonight's show?"
* CrapsackWorld: ...Although Letterman's openly-silly style of humor clashes with his seemingly cynical presentation just enough to cause debate on where he stands on the SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism.
* DeadpanSnarker
* {{Deconstruction}} / DeconstructiveParody
* DontTryThisAtHome: Warning disclaimer for many ''Late Night'' stunts in the 1980s. Occasionally subverted by Letterman with the addendum "Go to a friend's house instead."
** During ''Stupid Pet Tricks'', "Please....no wagering", which in turn is subverted by ''Stupid Human Tricks'''s disclaimer "Go ahead and wager."
* DrumRoll: All upcoming gags receive this, sometimes to intentionally anti-climactic results.
** Dave often also asks Stupid Pet Trick contestants if they want a drum roll or if they think it will scare the pet.
* ''TheEqualizer'': [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMfsLySxIzA Edward Woodward]] appears in this clip as Dave calls the number in the Equalizer's in-universe ad.
* {{Expy}}: Jay Leno's "Headlines" is the exact same bit as Letterman's "Small Town News"...except Leno copies the articles (''other people's works'') and sells them in book form.
** Letterman's "Small Town News" predates "Headlines" by approximately 10 years. It can be argued that they both stole the concept from Steve Allen's Tonight Show.
** To his credit, Letterman has always credited Allen for insperation for a number of the ''Late Night/Late Show'' spots such his Suit of Alka-Seltzer being an {{Expy}} of Allen's Suit of Teabags.
* FakeBand: In 1999, Letterman used the faux BoyBand "Fresh Step" to mock groups like the BackstreetBoys and N'Sync.
* {{Foil}}: During the rare times that {{Madonna}} was allowed to come on, she would happily ruin Letterman's planned schedule of events via grandstanding and showboating. This was likely out of revenge for Dave introducing her as someone who "[[BackhandedCompliment slept with]] some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry."
* FrivolousLawsuit / DisneyOwnsThisTrope: When Letterman left for CBS, NBC threatened one over the "intellectual property" of Stupid Pet Tricks and the Top Ten list, until both Letterman and Leno's mockery embarrassed them out of it. Among the problems with the lawsuit: Top ten lists had been [[OlderThanTheyThink done for years by people before Letterman]], and [[WhatAnIdiot Letterman actually owned the Stupid Pet Tricks property from an earlier show of his]].
** Then-current NBC anchor Tom Brokaw made a surprise appearance during Letterman's first CBS monologue and took one of the cue cards, claiming the jokes were NBC intellectual property.
** [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObJzT7dI-Ws After asking Johnny Carson if he can use "Stump the Band"]], Johnny quips "''Stump the Band''? Sure, I can hardly claim that as intellectual property!"
* TheFrugalGourmet: The late Jeff Smith almost out-Lettermans Letterman in [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGYvTspqu2c this clip]], and Paul's line might be considered GettingCrapPastTheRadar by 1991 standards.
* GameShow: Dave appeared on many games from about 1975-80, and occasionally says "[[{{Concentration}} Not a match, the board goes back.]]" when a joke falls flat. He's also done several parodies, which you can watch on the GameShowAppearance page.
** Dave also hosted a disastrous GameShow pilot called "The Riddlers". The pilot has been shown on GSN, [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHJDu-hPhDo and here]] you can see him talk with [=Michael McKean=] about it.
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar
* GuestHost: Letterman became famous as JohnnyCarson's guest host on ''TheTonightShow''. Much later in his career, Letterman would have heart surgery and a bout with shingles that led to famous guest hosts for his show, like RegisPhilbin, BruceWillis, WillFerrell, JimmyFallon, ElvisCostello, AdamSandler, TomGreen, MeganMullaly, VinceVaughn, and BonnieHunt.
* JerkAss: Letterman's interview style was often charitably described as "acerbic" in his early days. {{Cher}} told him that for years she didn't want to come back on his show because she thought he was "an asshole".
* KeepCirculatingTheTapes: With ''Late Night'' co-owned by NBC Productions and Letterman's World Wide Pants, don't expect a "Best Of" DVD anytime soon.
* LeftItIn: Letterman frequently says "We'll edit that out later." They never do.
* LittleKnownFacts: "Fun Facts".
* LogoJoke: The first airing of ''Late Show'' was prefaced with the Creator/{{CBS}} ID of the era playing as normal, except Dave said "This is CBS" instead of the usual V/O guy, and he actually appeared midway through the ID.
-->'''Dave''' (''in another promo in front of the eye''): Don't you think that eye thing is.....kinda creepy?
* LongRunner: Dave just celebrated 30 years in late night television. However this is split between two shows, Late Night on NBC and CBS's the Late Show.
* LovelyAssistant: Grinder Girl and Hula Hoop Girl in "Will It Float?"
** The pair may also be an example of {{Ascended Extra}}s as well — both originally showed up in an earlier recurring sketch called "Is This Anything?", during which the audience was treated to a few seconds of someone's offbeat act, after which Dave and Paul would decide whether the act was "anything" worthwhile. ...They really liked Grinder Girl and Hula Hoop Girl.
* MediumAwareness
* OneOfUs: Dave has made it pretty blatant that he likes classic game shows, among other things.
* OnlySaneMan
* OrphanedPunchLine: [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNn60k4N9rU This clip]] from a 1985 episode has guest JohnnyCarson delivering the punchline to a joke that he'd started on ''TheTonightShow'' earlier that night: "And the man says to Mrs. O'Hara, 'I'm not so sure about that, he got out three times to go to the bathroom'."
* ThePeteBest: Frank Owen, Dave's Musical Director for his Morning Show before Paul.
* PlayingWithATrope
* TheRival: Jay "Big Jaw" Leno became this after he beat Letterman out as Carson's successor on ''Tonight'', and Dave moved to CBS to compete directly with Leno in the 11:30 PM slot. The bad blood resurfaced in 2009 after some of the worst ExecutiveMeddling of all time caused Leno to first move out of ''The Tonight Show'' and then back in after less than a year because of failing ratings. Letterman joined many others in accusing Leno of "reneging" on his previously-announced "retirement," although the move had been largely forced on Leno and he only reteurned after his ostensible successor, ConanOBrien (who had earlier succeeded Letterman himself on NBC's ''Late Night'' show), had already decided to leave. Despite the bump in Letterman's ratings the events caused, he still tends to come in behind Leno's.
** Although Leno has gotten mileage out of occasional Letterman scandals (notably revelations of Letterman's affair with a staffer), he has been much less inclined to attack Letterman than Letterman has been to attack him. The former friends' relationship remains strained, although Leno has expressed willingness to mend fences.
** Lampshaded to hilarious effect in a promo aired during Super Bowl XLIV.
** ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msC3uu4KZbg Law & Order: Jay Leno Victims Unit]]''.
* RunningGag: Often used to the point of being [[OverlyLongGag intentionally unfunny]] and arguably bordering on LampshadeHanging.
** One of Dave's more notable phrases, used when a joke falls flat, is "Not a match, the board goes back" — a phrase that should be familiar to anyone who has ever been thanked for playing ''{{Concentration}}''.
** The "Countdown until Bernie Madoff's Release".
* {{Satire}}
* {{Sideboob}}: On this VerySpecialEpisode, the audience (and later all of Manhattan via the Jumbotron) gets a [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UUqwrpw3uA quick shot of Drew Barrymore's side boob]], while Birthday Boy Letterman gets to enjoy the full effect.
* TheShowMustGoOn: While New York City hunkered down for the imminent arrival of Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, the show was recorded without a studio audience and a skeleton crew. A manikin was "operating" one of the cameras and an intern held up handwritten text cards for the Top Ten List. (JimmyFallon, also in NYC, did a similar show.)
* SomethingCompletelyDifferent / ShowWithinAShow: ''Late Night'' would sometimes stage an entire episode in a bizarre, novel way.
** One night, he pretended it was ''The Morning Show with Dave & Tawny'' (perhaps a statement on his ill-fated eponymous 1980 series)...and actually [[WhatCouldHaveBeen seemed like a pretty decent idea]].
*** Apparently Dave himself was very impressed with this episode. Generally when he would announce that the next night's episode was a repeat, he'd say it's "Just a lousy re-run, don't bother tuning in". But when announcing "The Morning Show" episode's re-showing, he suggested people giving it another viewing.
** On another occasion, he let the audience vote via applause for a "custom-built show".
** Still another episode was an "upside-down show" where the camera rotated 360 degrees throughout the course of the hour.
** Not to mention the 4 AM show, which was taped at, you guessed it, 4 in the morning. The show featured an introduction from Hillary Clinton, Dave entering on a horse, rat catching in the streets of Manhattan, and a guided tour of one of the guests neighbourhood.
* ''Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries'': GeorgeTakei narrated "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ceek_6A-UWs Chris Elliot: Television Miracle]]".
** How do you top DrumSolo Weeks I & II? With [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w440qVTsNUo Drum Sulu Week!]]
* StealthPun: A staple of Letterman comedy, especially in Top Ten Lists.
* StrawFan: Predominantly used by Letterman to mock his audience in the "Viewer Mail" segments.
* StudioAudience: Often had a love/hate relationship with Letterman in the mid-1980s; they're all adoration, all the time nowadays.
* [[ImpossiblyCoolClothes Suit Of Awesome]]: For a while in the 80s David had a number of special suits. Sitting in a giant bowl he was doused with barrels of milk while wearing a Suit of Rice Krispies; Hoisted by a crane he was placed in a giant glass of water wearing a Suit of Alka-Seltzer; And perhaps most famous of all - he jumped off a trampoline on to a wall while wearing a Suit of Velcro to see if he'd stick. He did. As Letterman himself freely admitted, these were inspired by Steve Allen, who during his run as host of ''TheTonightShow'', once sat in a giant tea cup with warm water and 200 lemon wedges while wearing a Suit of Teabags.
* SwivelChairAntics: Dave and Paul have raced down the halls of NBC on fire extinguisher powered office chairs.
* TalkShow
* TeensAreMonsters: "Dwight the Troubled Teen" skits.
* TheEponymousShow: Letterman's first morning show on NBC was ''The David Letterman Show''. But even today, his various incarnations are all lumped together as ''The Letterman Show''.
* TopTenList: Perhaps Letterman's most well-known Trope. An attempt to eradicate all of those insipid "top ten lists" forever, from the inside, by making lists so intentionally lame that the phenomenon would die on the spot. [[SpringtimeForHitler Ironically]], though, the Top Ten actually became one of Letterman's most popular bits, and is his hallmark to this day.
* TVStrikes: Letterman circumvented the 2007 WGA strike by negotiating a special deal that allowed his writers to return to work early.
* {{Twitter}}: Dave has composed tweets in mid-show, in full GrumpyOldMan mode commenting sarcastically about how "this is so much easier than a phone call" and spelling out the words "Hash Tag" in the tweet itself.
* UnfortunateNames: For a month in 1995, Dave was absolutely obsessed with a man from Saskatchewan named Dick Assman. Yes, you read that right.
* {{UST}}: Between Dave and JuliaRoberts, of all people. Also with Gillian Anderson in [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2Z8UvXjgG8 this]] appearance.
* VacationEpisode: The crew once spent a week in London, which also marked the only time the series has seen the light of British terrestrial television - [[TheBBC BBC2]] aired those episodes.
* VanityPlate: Letterman's company, Worldwide Pants, has a vanity plate that is memorable for the non-sequiteur phrases announced during the display of the plate.
* VitriolicBestBuds: Dave has had this relationship with several guests, most notably Regis Philbin and Charles Grodin.
* WorkedShoot: Letterman's infamous interview with actor/comedian AndyKaufman and pro wrestler JerryLawler has been confirmed as a staged event in the intervening years. Dave's disastrous chat with Crispin Glover, on the other hand, appears to be all too real.
* WhatCouldHaveBeen: The Super Bowl commercial with Oprah and Leno was planned to feature ConanOBrien, but Conan's deal with NBC stipulated that he couldn't appear on television for several months after leaving ''TheTonightShow''.
** More to the point (at least according to Bill Carter) Conan didn't ''want'' to do the commercial.
** ConanOBrien applied for a job as a writer for Letterman around 1986, and was apparently seriously considered. When Letterman was reminded (years after the fact) just who he'd turned down, his response was "Well, our loss."
** Possibly the biggest 'What Could Have Been' ever.... ''The Tonight Show starring David Letterman''.
* WritingAroundTrademarks: Due to NBC owning the names (but not the formats) to several of Letterman's skits.
** The World's Most Dangerous Band [=-->=] The CBS Orchestra. [[note]](This is either a subtle TakeThat to NBC's "The NBC Orchestra" and/or a stealth tribute to Carson as The NBC Orchestra, led by Doc Severinsen, was featured on ''The Tonight Show''.)[[/note]]
** Viewer Mail [=-->=] CBS Mailbag.
** The Top Ten List [=-->=] The Late Show Top Ten List.
** Larry "Bud" Melman [=-->=] Calvert [=DeForest=].
* YourFavorite: Dave once had his Mother on the show to demonstrate how she made his favorite snack — Fried Bologna Sandwiches.
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to:

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->''"And now… a man who shouldn't be up this late… David Letterman!"''
-->-- Dave's first intro line from 1982.

->''"So, tell me Dave, just how pissed off are you?"''
->''"Johnny, you keep using language like that and you're [[GallowsHumor gonna find yourself out of a job!]]"''
-->-- '''Johnny Carson's''' opening question to Dave on Letterman's first ''[[TheTonightShow Tonight Show]]'' appearance after NBC made their decision.

David Letterman (born 1947) is a late-night TalkShow host famous for defining the genre in the post-[[TheTonightShow Johnny Carson]] era. Letterman's shows (''The David Letterman Show'' in 1980, ''LateNight'' from 1982-93, and ''The Late Show'' since then) came to be known as examples of the "[[PostModernism Anti-Talk Show]]", a show that is relentlessly [[LampshadeHanging self-aware]] and intent on deconstructing the conventions of the very medium that gives it life.

From the beginning, Letterman fashioned his persona as a smartass host that was "too hip" for the talk show format, and proceeded from there to make a mockery of the entire genre as a result — for instance, he would often barely hide his contempt for [[HatesTheJobLovesTheLimelight almost every aspect of show business]], from his producers and writers, to his wardrobe director, his celebrity guests, his sidekick Paul Shaffer, and [[SelfDeprecation even his own fame]]. All of this pales, however, in comparison to his loathing for hated "[[TheRival rival]]" Jay Leno, to whom he lost the coveted [[TheTonightShow ''Tonight Show'']] gig after Carson's retirement, a development about which he is still clearly bitter some two decades later.

Letterman took frequent shots at his network (first NBC, then CBS), and then his network's parent company when NBC was acquired by General Electric. He would intentionally bomb jokes in the monologue, and openly waste network airtime on ridiculous gags whose only purpose served to illustrate simply that, "[[SpringtimeForHitler Hey! I'm wasting NBC airtime here!]]" He eschewed the typical talk show uniform of a tailored suit in favor of a tie, a blazer, khakis...and white Adidas wrestling shoes.

He dropped random things off roofs, he blew random things up on-air, he staged impromptu audience competitions (in addition to showcasing Stupid Pet, and Human, Tricks), he used "viewer mail" segments as an excuse to break into various non sequitur-style sketches, he did stunts in a variety of ridiculous suits (made of velcro, tortilla chips, etc.), and essentially offered a biting parody of the [[HorribleHollywood Hollywood machine]] from the perspective of a Midwestern "everyman" who somehow found himself [[OnlySaneMan trapped inside the establishment]] at the height of its decadence.

As a side-effect, Letterman was sort of feared in the business when it came to interacting with the guests. He was intimidating, and could be somewhat mean to them. Until the late 1990s when he started to mellow down, it was fairly well-known that his only real friends in the business were WarrenZevon and JuliaRoberts. In one interview in the early 2000s, Roberts mentioned the fact that Letterman had softened up and that now every actress was a "lovely girl". Letterman's quip was "Oh, you know I'm just woofing."

Ironically, Letterman's influential "anti-talk show" sensibility ended up ''saving'' the talk show format as we know it at some point towards the end of Carson's stint as host of ''TheTonightShow''. Without Letterman mocking the genre in the 1980s, today's genre staples (especially ConanOBrien's shows) would likely not exist in their current form.


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!!This show provides examples of:
* AndyKaufman: Frequent guest in the show's early years (until he was too ill to make appearances) — even after the Jerry Lawler WorkedShoot, and even as Kaufman became persona non grata on other mainstream shows such as ''SaturdayNightLive''. Simply put, Kaufman's work suited Letterman's sensibilities perfectly.
* [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking Arson Murder And]]...[[LampshadeHanging umm]]...[[TheRival Jaywalking]]: As part of Letterman's subversion of the form, as a rule #1 is almost never the funniest joke in the Top Ten List. The studio audience will be [[ButThouMust applauding anyway]].
* AscendedExtra: Many members of he production staff and crew have become familiar faces to viewers and even been utilized in bits, such as stagehand Biff Henderson, production assistant Barbara Gaines, and former producer and director Hal Gurnee and Robert Morton, respectively.
* BigApplesauce: New York-based, unlike the LA-based ''Tonight Show''.
* BitingTheHandHumor: On ''Late Night'', Letterman constantly took shots at NBC and their parent company, General Electric. And he's poked plenty of fun at [=CBS=] since his channel hop.
-->'''Dave''' (''standing in front of a giant CBS eye'') Just between you and me...isn't that eye thing...kinda creepy?
* BodyHorror: "Things [[TakeThat More Fun]] Than Reading The SarahPalin Memoir" consists of BodyHorror StockFootage, mostly from old movies.
* BrickJoke: A relatively recent joke involving newly installed button on Dave's chair. He's told to press it - cue Dave getting blasted out of the building (everyone is then told he's okay). A couple of episodes later, Dave reveals that said button is still there. He pushes the button, and we [[ForegoneConclusion think we know what will happen next]], but instead, [[SubvertedTrope the head of the orchestra is blasted outside]]. Another push of the button, though, [[HistoryRepeats and Dave's right behind him]].
* TheBusCameBack: Dave made a number of guest appearences on ''Late Night with Conan O'Brien''.
* CallingTheOldManOut: Kirstie Alley got one over on Dave when she appeared on the Late Show in 2011. Having been a Woobie for Letterman in the past, particularly during her run on DancingWithTheStars, she brought with her Dave's cruelest jokes and repeated them back to him. The audience booed the jokes. May count as a CrowningMomentOfAwesome for Kirstie.
* CasanovaWannabe: Announcer Alan Kalter.
* CaptainErsatz: Chris Elliot's running characters The Fugitive Guy (''Series/TheFugitive'') and The Regulator Guy (''TheEqualizer'').
* CatchPhrase: Whenever the subject of drinks comes up, "I don't think there's a man, woman, or child alive today who doesn't enjoy a refreshing beverage."
** "How we doing on time?"
** "I wouldn't give my troubles to a monkey on a rock."
** (When a joke set-up has a fairly obvious punchline coming up) "I think we can all see this one coming down 2nd Avenue."
* ''{{Cats}}'': Shortly after moving to the Ed Sullivan Theatre, Dave would parody Sullivan's habit of introducing celebrities in the audience. One night he introduced a confused looking Paul Newman who stood up, said "Where the hell's all the singing ''Cats''?" and walked out.
* ChannelHop / ExecutiveMeddling: Pissed that NBC execs picked Jay Leno over him to host ''Tonight'', Letterman took his show to CBS, where he had to make a few changes for the 11:30 slot that seemed minor at first but ultimately ended his peak until NBC's Jay-vs-Conan meltdown in 2009.
** Carson himself never forgave NBC for picking Leno over Letterman, as he always thought that Letterman was the best choice to succeed him. As such, whenever Carson got an idea for a joke while in his retirement, he would send them to Letterman instead of Leno. And [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9i6A6LGwa4 Carson himself showed up on-air]], the applause was ''deafening''. Both men were clearly overwhelmed by it.
* ChewToy: Poor Alan Kalter (aka TheAnnouncer).
* CityOfWeirdos: A recurring Letterman gag is to see "How many guys in X costumes can fit in a Y?", trying to get a rise out of passers-by. People seldom react.
* ClusterFBomb: In 1994, {{Madonna}} dropped the F-word at least 13 times, which were all censored, during her interview, and tried to get Letterman to smell her panties.
[[quoteright:200:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/DaveAvengers.jpg]]
* CoattailRidingRelative: Dave makes the occasional joke about his uncle Larry trying to capitalize on his success.
* ComicBooks: Bizarrely, Letterman was in an issue of ''Comicbook/TheAvengers'' in 1984. A parody version of Letterman ("David Endochrine") was murdered (along with his audience) by SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker in FrankMiller's ''TheDarkKnightReturns''.
* ComplainingAboutThingsYouHaventPaidFor: Dave sometimes jokingly tries to preempt complaints from the studio audience saying things like "You didn't pay anything to get in here, you know."
** Also at the midpoint of the show, Letterman would announce the guests booked for the next episode. Sometimes the audience would boo softly if it was a big name guest, leading Dave to say "Oh? Something wrong with tonight's show?"
* CrapsackWorld: ...Although Letterman's openly-silly style of humor clashes with his seemingly cynical presentation just enough to cause debate on where he stands on the SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism.
* DeadpanSnarker
* {{Deconstruction}} / DeconstructiveParody
* DontTryThisAtHome: Warning disclaimer for many ''Late Night'' stunts in the 1980s. Occasionally subverted by Letterman with the addendum "Go to a friend's house instead."
** During ''Stupid Pet Tricks'', "Please....no wagering", which in turn is subverted by ''Stupid Human Tricks'''s disclaimer "Go ahead and wager."
* DrumRoll: All upcoming gags receive this, sometimes to intentionally anti-climactic results.
** Dave often also asks Stupid Pet Trick contestants if they want a drum roll or if they think it will scare the pet.
* ''TheEqualizer'': [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMfsLySxIzA Edward Woodward]] appears in this clip as Dave calls the number in the Equalizer's in-universe ad.
* {{Expy}}: Jay Leno's "Headlines" is the exact same bit as Letterman's "Small Town News"...except Leno copies the articles (''other people's works'') and sells them in book form.
** Letterman's "Small Town News" predates "Headlines" by approximately 10 years. It can be argued that they both stole the concept from Steve Allen's Tonight Show.
** To his credit, Letterman has always credited Allen for insperation for a number of the ''Late Night/Late Show'' spots such his Suit of Alka-Seltzer being an {{Expy}} of Allen's Suit of Teabags.
* FakeBand: In 1999, Letterman used the faux BoyBand "Fresh Step" to mock groups like the BackstreetBoys and N'Sync.
* {{Foil}}: During the rare times that {{Madonna}} was allowed to come on, she would happily ruin Letterman's planned schedule of events via grandstanding and showboating. This was likely out of revenge for Dave introducing her as someone who "[[BackhandedCompliment slept with]] some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry."
* FrivolousLawsuit / DisneyOwnsThisTrope: When Letterman left for CBS, NBC threatened one over the "intellectual property" of Stupid Pet Tricks and the Top Ten list, until both Letterman and Leno's mockery embarrassed them out of it. Among the problems with the lawsuit: Top ten lists had been [[OlderThanTheyThink done for years by people before Letterman]], and [[WhatAnIdiot Letterman actually owned the Stupid Pet Tricks property from an earlier show of his]].
** Then-current NBC anchor Tom Brokaw made a surprise appearance during Letterman's first CBS monologue and took one of the cue cards, claiming the jokes were NBC intellectual property.
** [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObJzT7dI-Ws After asking Johnny Carson if he can use "Stump the Band"]], Johnny quips "''Stump the Band''? Sure, I can hardly claim that as intellectual property!"
* TheFrugalGourmet: The late Jeff Smith almost out-Lettermans Letterman in [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGYvTspqu2c this clip]], and Paul's line might be considered GettingCrapPastTheRadar by 1991 standards.
* GameShow: Dave appeared on many games from about 1975-80, and occasionally says "[[{{Concentration}} Not a match, the board goes back.]]" when a joke falls flat. He's also done several parodies, which you can watch on the GameShowAppearance page.
** Dave also hosted a disastrous GameShow pilot called "The Riddlers". The pilot has been shown on GSN, [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHJDu-hPhDo and here]] you can see him talk with [=Michael McKean=] about it.
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar
* GuestHost: Letterman became famous as JohnnyCarson's guest host on ''TheTonightShow''. Much later in his career, Letterman would have heart surgery and a bout with shingles that led to famous guest hosts for his show, like RegisPhilbin, BruceWillis, WillFerrell, JimmyFallon, ElvisCostello, AdamSandler, TomGreen, MeganMullaly, VinceVaughn, and BonnieHunt.
* JerkAss: Letterman's interview style was often charitably described as "acerbic" in his early days. {{Cher}} told him that for years she didn't want to come back on his show because she thought he was "an asshole".
* KeepCirculatingTheTapes: With ''Late Night'' co-owned by NBC Productions and Letterman's World Wide Pants, don't expect a "Best Of" DVD anytime soon.
* LeftItIn: Letterman frequently says "We'll edit that out later." They never do.
* LittleKnownFacts: "Fun Facts".
* LogoJoke: The first airing of ''Late Show'' was prefaced with the Creator/{{CBS}} ID of the era playing as normal, except Dave said "This is CBS" instead of the usual V/O guy, and he actually appeared midway through the ID.
-->'''Dave''' (''in another promo in front of the eye''): Don't you think that eye thing is.....kinda creepy?
* LongRunner: Dave just celebrated 30 years in late night television. However this is split between two shows, Late Night on NBC and CBS's the Late Show.
* LovelyAssistant: Grinder Girl and Hula Hoop Girl in "Will It Float?"
** The pair may also be an example of {{Ascended Extra}}s as well — both originally showed up in an earlier recurring sketch called "Is This Anything?", during which the audience was treated to a few seconds of someone's offbeat act, after which Dave and Paul would decide whether the act was "anything" worthwhile. ...They really liked Grinder Girl and Hula Hoop Girl.
* MediumAwareness
* OneOfUs: Dave has made it pretty blatant that he likes classic game shows, among other things.
* OnlySaneMan
* OrphanedPunchLine: [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNn60k4N9rU This clip]] from a 1985 episode has guest JohnnyCarson delivering the punchline to a joke that he'd started on ''TheTonightShow'' earlier that night: "And the man says to Mrs. O'Hara, 'I'm not so sure about that, he got out three times to go to the bathroom'."
* ThePeteBest: Frank Owen, Dave's Musical Director for his Morning Show before Paul.
* PlayingWithATrope
* TheRival: Jay "Big Jaw" Leno became this after he beat Letterman out as Carson's successor on ''Tonight'', and Dave moved to CBS to compete directly with Leno in the 11:30 PM slot. The bad blood resurfaced in 2009 after some of the worst ExecutiveMeddling of all time caused Leno to first move out of ''The Tonight Show'' and then back in after less than a year because of failing ratings. Letterman joined many others in accusing Leno of "reneging" on his previously-announced "retirement," although the move had been largely forced on Leno and he only reteurned after his ostensible successor, ConanOBrien (who had earlier succeeded Letterman himself on NBC's ''Late Night'' show), had already decided to leave. Despite the bump in Letterman's ratings the events caused, he still tends to come in behind Leno's.
** Although Leno has gotten mileage out of occasional Letterman scandals (notably revelations of Letterman's affair with a staffer), he has been much less inclined to attack Letterman than Letterman has been to attack him. The former friends' relationship remains strained, although Leno has expressed willingness to mend fences.
** Lampshaded to hilarious effect in a promo aired during Super Bowl XLIV.
** ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msC3uu4KZbg Law & Order: Jay Leno Victims Unit]]''.
* RunningGag: Often used to the point of being [[OverlyLongGag intentionally unfunny]] and arguably bordering on LampshadeHanging.
** One of Dave's more notable phrases, used when a joke falls flat, is "Not a match, the board goes back" — a phrase that should be familiar to anyone who has ever been thanked for playing ''{{Concentration}}''.
** The "Countdown until Bernie Madoff's Release".
* {{Satire}}
* {{Sideboob}}: On this VerySpecialEpisode, the audience (and later all of Manhattan via the Jumbotron) gets a [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UUqwrpw3uA quick shot of Drew Barrymore's side boob]], while Birthday Boy Letterman gets to enjoy the full effect.
* TheShowMustGoOn: While New York City hunkered down for the imminent arrival of Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, the show was recorded without a studio audience and a skeleton crew. A manikin was "operating" one of the cameras and an intern held up handwritten text cards for the Top Ten List. (JimmyFallon, also in NYC, did a similar show.)
* SomethingCompletelyDifferent / ShowWithinAShow: ''Late Night'' would sometimes stage an entire episode in a bizarre, novel way.
** One night, he pretended it was ''The Morning Show with Dave & Tawny'' (perhaps a statement on his ill-fated eponymous 1980 series)...and actually [[WhatCouldHaveBeen seemed like a pretty decent idea]].
*** Apparently Dave himself was very impressed with this episode. Generally when he would announce that the next night's episode was a repeat, he'd say it's "Just a lousy re-run, don't bother tuning in". But when announcing "The Morning Show" episode's re-showing, he suggested people giving it another viewing.
** On another occasion, he let the audience vote via applause for a "custom-built show".
** Still another episode was an "upside-down show" where the camera rotated 360 degrees throughout the course of the hour.
** Not to mention the 4 AM show, which was taped at, you guessed it, 4 in the morning. The show featured an introduction from Hillary Clinton, Dave entering on a horse, rat catching in the streets of Manhattan, and a guided tour of one of the guests neighbourhood.
* ''Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries'': GeorgeTakei narrated "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ceek_6A-UWs Chris Elliot: Television Miracle]]".
** How do you top DrumSolo Weeks I & II? With [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w440qVTsNUo Drum Sulu Week!]]
* StealthPun: A staple of Letterman comedy, especially in Top Ten Lists.
* StrawFan: Predominantly used by Letterman to mock his audience in the "Viewer Mail" segments.
* StudioAudience: Often had a love/hate relationship with Letterman in the mid-1980s; they're all adoration, all the time nowadays.
* [[ImpossiblyCoolClothes Suit Of Awesome]]: For a while in the 80s David had a number of special suits. Sitting in a giant bowl he was doused with barrels of milk while wearing a Suit of Rice Krispies; Hoisted by a crane he was placed in a giant glass of water wearing a Suit of Alka-Seltzer; And perhaps most famous of all - he jumped off a trampoline on to a wall while wearing a Suit of Velcro to see if he'd stick. He did. As Letterman himself freely admitted, these were inspired by Steve Allen, who during his run as host of ''TheTonightShow'', once sat in a giant tea cup with warm water and 200 lemon wedges while wearing a Suit of Teabags.
* SwivelChairAntics: Dave and Paul have raced down the halls of NBC on fire extinguisher powered office chairs.
* TalkShow
* TeensAreMonsters: "Dwight the Troubled Teen" skits.
* TheEponymousShow: Letterman's first morning show on NBC was ''The David Letterman Show''. But even today, his various incarnations are all lumped together as ''The Letterman Show''.
* TopTenList: Perhaps Letterman's most well-known Trope. An attempt to eradicate all of those insipid "top ten lists" forever, from the inside, by making lists so intentionally lame that the phenomenon would die on the spot. [[SpringtimeForHitler Ironically]], though, the Top Ten actually became one of Letterman's most popular bits, and is his hallmark to this day.
* TVStrikes: Letterman circumvented the 2007 WGA strike by negotiating a special deal that allowed his writers to return to work early.
* {{Twitter}}: Dave has composed tweets in mid-show, in full GrumpyOldMan mode commenting sarcastically about how "this is so much easier than a phone call" and spelling out the words "Hash Tag" in the tweet itself.
* UnfortunateNames: For a month in 1995, Dave was absolutely obsessed with a man from Saskatchewan named Dick Assman. Yes, you read that right.
* {{UST}}: Between Dave and JuliaRoberts, of all people. Also with Gillian Anderson in [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2Z8UvXjgG8 this]] appearance.
* VacationEpisode: The crew once spent a week in London, which also marked the only time the series has seen the light of British terrestrial television - [[TheBBC BBC2]] aired those episodes.
* VanityPlate: Letterman's company, Worldwide Pants, has a vanity plate that is memorable for the non-sequiteur phrases announced during the display of the plate.
* VitriolicBestBuds: Dave has had this relationship with several guests, most notably Regis Philbin and Charles Grodin.
* WorkedShoot: Letterman's infamous interview with actor/comedian AndyKaufman and pro wrestler JerryLawler has been confirmed as a staged event in the intervening years. Dave's disastrous chat with Crispin Glover, on the other hand, appears to be all too real.
* WhatCouldHaveBeen: The Super Bowl commercial with Oprah and Leno was planned to feature ConanOBrien, but Conan's deal with NBC stipulated that he couldn't appear on television for several months after leaving ''TheTonightShow''.
** More to the point (at least according to Bill Carter) Conan didn't ''want'' to do the commercial.
** ConanOBrien applied for a job as a writer for Letterman around 1986, and was apparently seriously considered. When Letterman was reminded (years after the fact) just who he'd turned down, his response was "Well, our loss."
** Possibly the biggest 'What Could Have Been' ever.... ''The Tonight Show starring David Letterman''.
* WritingAroundTrademarks: Due to NBC owning the names (but not the formats) to several of Letterman's skits.
** The World's Most Dangerous Band [=-->=] The CBS Orchestra. [[note]](This is either a subtle TakeThat to NBC's "The NBC Orchestra" and/or a stealth tribute to Carson as The NBC Orchestra, led by Doc Severinsen, was featured on ''The Tonight Show''.)[[/note]]
** Viewer Mail [=-->=] CBS Mailbag.
** The Top Ten List [=-->=] The Late Show Top Ten List.
** Larry "Bud" Melman [=-->=] Calvert [=DeForest=].
* YourFavorite: Dave once had his Mother on the show to demonstrate how she made his favorite snack — Fried Bologna Sandwiches.
----
[[redirect:Creator/DavidLetterman]]
13th Nov '12 5:12:32 AM JohnPrestwick
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Added DiffLines:

** The "Countdown until Bernie Madoff's Release".
30th Oct '12 7:38:45 PM Elle
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Added DiffLines:

* TheShowMustGoOn: While New York City hunkered down for the imminent arrival of Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, the show was recorded without a studio audience and a skeleton crew. A manikin was "operating" one of the cameras and an intern held up handwritten text cards for the Top Ten List. (JimmyFallon, also in NYC, did a similar show.)
28th Oct '12 11:56:37 AM KDLarsen
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Added DiffLines:

** Not to mention the 4 AM show, which was taped at, you guessed it, 4 in the morning. The show featured an introduction from Hillary Clinton, Dave entering on a horse, rat catching in the streets of Manhattan, and a guided tour of one of the guests neighbourhood.
21st Sep '12 10:08:41 PM DocStrange
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As a side-effect, Letterman was sort of feared in the business when it came to interacting with the guests. He was intimidating, and could be somewhat mean to them. Until the late 1990s when he started to mellow down, it was fairly well-known that his only real friend in the business was JuliaRoberts. In one interview in the early 2000s, Roberts mentioned the fact that Letterman had softened up and that now every actress was a "lovely girl". Letterman's quip was "Oh, you know I'm just woofing."

to:

As a side-effect, Letterman was sort of feared in the business when it came to interacting with the guests. He was intimidating, and could be somewhat mean to them. Until the late 1990s when he started to mellow down, it was fairly well-known that his only real friend friends in the business was were WarrenZevon and JuliaRoberts. In one interview in the early 2000s, Roberts mentioned the fact that Letterman had softened up and that now every actress was a "lovely girl". Letterman's quip was "Oh, you know I'm just woofing."
26th Aug '12 11:41:09 AM FELH2
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* ComicBooks: Bizarrely, Letterman was in an issue of ''Comicbook/TheAvengers'' in 1984. A parody version of Letterman ("David Endochrine") was murdered (along with his audience) by TheJoker in FrankMiller's ''TheDarkKnightReturns''.

to:

* ComicBooks: Bizarrely, Letterman was in an issue of ''Comicbook/TheAvengers'' in 1984. A parody version of Letterman ("David Endochrine") was murdered (along with his audience) by TheJoker SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker in FrankMiller's ''TheDarkKnightReturns''.
25th Aug '12 2:29:45 AM FELH2
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From the beginning, Letterman fashioned his persona as a smartass host that was "too hip" for the talk show format, and proceeded from there to make a mockery of the entire genre as a result — for instance, he would often barely hide his contempt for [[HatesTheJobLovesTheLimelight almost every aspect of show business]], from his producers and writers, to his wardrobe director, his celebrity guests, his sidekick Paul Shaffer, and [[SelfDeprecation even his own fame]]. All of this pales, however, in comparison to his loathing for hated "[[TheRival rival]]" Jay Leno, to whom he lost the coveted [[TheTonightShow ''Tonight Show'']] gig after Carson's retirement, a development about which he is still clearly bitter some two decades later.

to:

From the beginning, Letterman fashioned his persona as a smartass host that was "too hip" for the talk show format, and proceeded from there to make a mockery of the entire genre as a result — for instance, he would often barely hide his contempt for [[HatesTheJobLovesTheLimelight almost every aspect of show business]], from his producers and writers, to his wardrobe director, his celebrity guests, his sidekick Paul Shaffer, and [[SelfDeprecation even his own fame]]. All of this pales, however, in comparison to his loathing for hated "[[TheRival rival]]" Jay Leno, to whom he lost the coveted [[TheTonightShow ''Tonight Show'']] gig after Carson's retirement, a development about which he is still clearly bitter some two decades later.
later.




to:




* AndyKaufman: Frequent guest in the show's early years (until he was too ill to make appearances) — even after the Jerry Lawler WorkedShoot, and even as Kaufman became persona non grata on other mainstream shows such as ''SaturdayNightLive''. Simply put, Kaufman's work suited Letterman's sensibilities perfectly.
* [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking Arson Murder And]]...[[LampshadeHanging umm]]...[[TheRival Jaywalking]]: As part of Letterman's subversion of the form, as a rule #1 is almost never the funniest joke in the Top Ten List. The studio audience will be [[ButThouMust applauding anyway]].

to:

* * AndyKaufman: Frequent guest in the show's early years (until he was too ill to make appearances) — even after the Jerry Lawler WorkedShoot, and even as Kaufman became persona non grata on other mainstream shows such as ''SaturdayNightLive''. Simply put, Kaufman's work suited Letterman's sensibilities perfectly.
* * [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking Arson Murder And]]...[[LampshadeHanging umm]]...[[TheRival Jaywalking]]: As part of Letterman's subversion of the form, as a rule #1 is almost never the funniest joke in the Top Ten List. The studio audience will be [[ButThouMust applauding anyway]].



* BigApplesauce: New York-based, unlike the LA-based ''Tonight Show''.
* BitingTheHandHumor: On ''Late Night'', Letterman constantly took shots at NBC and their parent company, General Electric. And he's poked plenty of fun at [=CBS=] since his channel hop.

to:

* * BigApplesauce: New York-based, unlike the LA-based ''Tonight Show''.
* * BitingTheHandHumor: On ''Late Night'', Letterman constantly took shots at NBC and their parent company, General Electric. And he's poked plenty of fun at [=CBS=] since his channel hop.



* BodyHorror: "Things [[TakeThat More Fun]] Than Reading The SarahPalin Memoir" consists of BodyHorror StockFootage, mostly from old movies.

to:

* * BodyHorror: "Things [[TakeThat More Fun]] Than Reading The SarahPalin Memoir" consists of BodyHorror StockFootage, mostly from old movies.



* CatchPhrase: Whenever the subject of drinks comes up, "I don't think there's a man, woman, or child alive today who doesn't enjoy a refreshing beverage."

to:

* * CatchPhrase: Whenever the subject of drinks comes up, "I don't think there's a man, woman, or child alive today who doesn't enjoy a refreshing beverage."



* ChannelHop / ExecutiveMeddling: Pissed that NBC execs picked Jay Leno over him to host ''Tonight'', Letterman took his show to CBS, where he had to make a few changes for the 11:30 slot that seemed minor at first but ultimately ended his peak until NBC's Jay-vs-Conan meltdown in 2009.
** Carson himself never forgave NBC for picking Leno over Letterman, as he always thought that Letterman was the best choice to succeed him. As such, whenever Carson got an idea for a joke while in his retirement, he would send them to Letterman instead of Leno. And [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9i6A6LGwa4 Carson himself showed up on-air]], the applause was ''deafening''. Both men were clearly overwhelmed by it.
* ChewToy: Poor Alan Kalter (aka TheAnnouncer).
* CityOfWeirdos: A recurring Letterman gag is to see "How many guys in X costumes can fit in a Y?", trying to get a rise out of passers-by. People seldom react.
* ClusterFBomb: In 1994, {{Madonna}} dropped the F-word at least 13 times, which were all censored, during her interview, and tried to get Letterman to smell her panties.
[[quoteright:200:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/DaveAvengers.jpg]]

to:

* * ChannelHop / ExecutiveMeddling: Pissed that NBC execs picked Jay Leno over him to host ''Tonight'', Letterman took his show to CBS, where he had to make a few changes for the 11:30 slot that seemed minor at first but ultimately ended his peak until NBC's Jay-vs-Conan meltdown in 2009.
** ** Carson himself never forgave NBC for picking Leno over Letterman, as he always thought that Letterman was the best choice to succeed him. As such, whenever Carson got an idea for a joke while in his retirement, he would send them to Letterman instead of Leno. And [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9i6A6LGwa4 Carson himself showed up on-air]], the applause was ''deafening''. Both men were clearly overwhelmed by it.
* * ChewToy: Poor Alan Kalter (aka TheAnnouncer).
* * CityOfWeirdos: A recurring Letterman gag is to see "How many guys in X costumes can fit in a Y?", trying to get a rise out of passers-by. People seldom react.
* * ClusterFBomb: In 1994, {{Madonna}} dropped the F-word at least 13 times, which were all censored, during her interview, and tried to get Letterman to smell her panties.
[[quoteright:200:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/DaveAvengers.jpg]] jpg]]



* ComicBooks: Bizarrely, Letterman was in an issue of ''Comicbook/TheAvengers'' in 1984. A parody version of Letterman ("David Endochrine") was murdered (along with his audience) by TheJoker in FrankMiller's ''TheDarkKnightReturns''.
* [[ComplainingAboutThingsYouHaventPaidFor Complaining About Things You Haven't Paid For]]: Dave sometimes jokingly tries to preempt complaints from the studio audience saying things like "You didn't pay anything to get in here, you know."

to:

* * ComicBooks: Bizarrely, Letterman was in an issue of ''Comicbook/TheAvengers'' in 1984. A parody version of Letterman ("David Endochrine") was murdered (along with his audience) by TheJoker in FrankMiller's ''TheDarkKnightReturns''.
* [[ComplainingAboutThingsYouHaventPaidFor Complaining About Things You Haven't Paid For]]: * ComplainingAboutThingsYouHaventPaidFor: Dave sometimes jokingly tries to preempt complaints from the studio audience saying things like "You didn't pay anything to get in here, you know."



* CrapsackWorld: ...Although Letterman's openly-silly style of humor clashes with his seemingly cynical presentation just enough to cause debate on where he stands on the SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism.
* DeadpanSnarker
* {{Deconstruction}} / DeconstructiveParody
* DontTryThisAtHome: Warning disclaimer for many ''Late Night'' stunts in the 1980s. Occasionally subverted by Letterman with the addendum "Go to a friend's house instead."
** During ''Stupid Pet Tricks'', "Please....no wagering", which in turn is subverted by ''Stupid Human Tricks'''s disclaimer "Go ahead and wager."
* DrumRoll: All upcoming gags receive this, sometimes to intentionally anti-climactic results.

to:

* * CrapsackWorld: ...Although Letterman's openly-silly style of humor clashes with his seemingly cynical presentation just enough to cause debate on where he stands on the SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism.
* * DeadpanSnarker
* * {{Deconstruction}} / DeconstructiveParody
* * DontTryThisAtHome: Warning disclaimer for many ''Late Night'' stunts in the 1980s. Occasionally subverted by Letterman with the addendum "Go to a friend's house instead."
** ** During ''Stupid Pet Tricks'', "Please....no wagering", which in turn is subverted by ''Stupid Human Tricks'''s disclaimer "Go ahead and wager."
* * DrumRoll: All upcoming gags receive this, sometimes to intentionally anti-climactic results.



* ''TheEqualizer'': [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMfsLySxIzA Edward Woodward]] appears in this clip as Dave calls the number in the Equalizer's in-universe ad.
* {{Expy}}: Jay Leno's "Headlines" is the exact same bit as Letterman's "Small Town News"...except Leno copies the articles (''other people's works'') and sells them in book form.

to:

* * ''TheEqualizer'': [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMfsLySxIzA Edward Woodward]] appears in this clip as Dave calls the number in the Equalizer's in-universe ad.
* * {{Expy}}: Jay Leno's "Headlines" is the exact same bit as Letterman's "Small Town News"...except Leno copies the articles (''other people's works'') and sells them in book form.



* FakeBand: In 1999, Letterman used the faux BoyBand "Fresh Step" to mock groups like the BackstreetBoys and N'Sync.
* {{Foil}}: During the rare times that {{Madonna}} was allowed to come on, she would happily ruin Letterman's planned schedule of events via grandstanding and showboating. This was likely out of revenge for Dave introducing her as someone who "[[BackhandedCompliment slept with]] some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry."
* FrivolousLawsuit / DisneyOwnsThisTrope: When Letterman left for CBS, NBC threatened one over the "intellectual property" of Stupid Pet Tricks and the Top Ten list, until both Letterman and Leno's mockery embarrassed them out of it. Among the problems with the lawsuit: Top ten lists had been [[OlderThanTheyThink done for years by people before Letterman]], and [[WhatAnIdiot Letterman actually owned the Stupid Pet Tricks property from an earlier show of his]].
** Then-current NBC anchor Tom Brokaw made a surprise appearance during Letterman's first CBS monologue and took one of the cue cards, claiming the jokes were NBC intellectual property.
** [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObJzT7dI-Ws After asking Johnny Carson if he can use "Stump the Band"]], Johnny quips "''Stump the Band''? Sure, I can hardly claim that as intellectual property!"
* TheFrugalGourmet: The late Jeff Smith almost out-Lettermans Letterman in [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGYvTspqu2c this clip]], and Paul's line might be considered GettingCrapPastTheRadar by 1991 standards.
* GameShow: Dave appeared on many games from about 1975-80, and occasionally says "[[{{Concentration}} Not a match, the board goes back.]]" when a joke falls flat. He's also done several parodies, which you can watch on the GameShowAppearance page.

to:

* * FakeBand: In 1999, Letterman used the faux BoyBand "Fresh Step" to mock groups like the BackstreetBoys and N'Sync.
* * {{Foil}}: During the rare times that {{Madonna}} was allowed to come on, she would happily ruin Letterman's planned schedule of events via grandstanding and showboating. This was likely out of revenge for Dave introducing her as someone who "[[BackhandedCompliment slept with]] some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry."
* * FrivolousLawsuit / DisneyOwnsThisTrope: When Letterman left for CBS, NBC threatened one over the "intellectual property" of Stupid Pet Tricks and the Top Ten list, until both Letterman and Leno's mockery embarrassed them out of it. Among the problems with the lawsuit: Top ten lists had been [[OlderThanTheyThink done for years by people before Letterman]], and [[WhatAnIdiot Letterman actually owned the Stupid Pet Tricks property from an earlier show of his]].
** ** Then-current NBC anchor Tom Brokaw made a surprise appearance during Letterman's first CBS monologue and took one of the cue cards, claiming the jokes were NBC intellectual property.
** ** [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObJzT7dI-Ws After asking Johnny Carson if he can use "Stump the Band"]], Johnny quips "''Stump the Band''? Sure, I can hardly claim that as intellectual property!"
* * TheFrugalGourmet: The late Jeff Smith almost out-Lettermans Letterman in [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGYvTspqu2c this clip]], and Paul's line might be considered GettingCrapPastTheRadar by 1991 standards.
* * GameShow: Dave appeared on many games from about 1975-80, and occasionally says "[[{{Concentration}} Not a match, the board goes back.]]" when a joke falls flat. He's also done several parodies, which you can watch on the GameShowAppearance page.



* GettingCrapPastTheRadar
* GuestHost: Letterman became famous as JohnnyCarson's guest host on ''TheTonightShow''. Much later in his career, Letterman would have heart surgery and a bout with shingles that led to famous guest hosts for his show, like RegisPhilbin, BruceWillis, WillFerrell, JimmyFallon, ElvisCostello, AdamSandler, TomGreen, MeganMullaly, VinceVaughn, and BonnieHunt.
* JerkAss: Letterman's interview style was often charitably described as "acerbic" in his early days. {{Cher}} told him that for years she didn't want to come back on his show because she thought he was "an asshole".
* KeepCirculatingTheTapes: With ''Late Night'' co-owned by NBC Productions and Letterman's World Wide Pants, don't expect a "Best Of" DVD anytime soon.
* LeftItIn: Letterman frequently says "We'll edit that out later." They never do.
* LittleKnownFacts: "Fun Facts".
* LogoJoke: The first airing of ''Late Show'' was prefaced with the {{CBS}} ID of the era playing as normal, except Dave said "This is CBS" instead of the usual V/O guy, and he actually appeared midway through the ID.

to:

* * GettingCrapPastTheRadar
* * GuestHost: Letterman became famous as JohnnyCarson's guest host on ''TheTonightShow''. Much later in his career, Letterman would have heart surgery and a bout with shingles that led to famous guest hosts for his show, like RegisPhilbin, BruceWillis, WillFerrell, JimmyFallon, ElvisCostello, AdamSandler, TomGreen, MeganMullaly, VinceVaughn, and BonnieHunt.
* * JerkAss: Letterman's interview style was often charitably described as "acerbic" in his early days. {{Cher}} told him that for years she didn't want to come back on his show because she thought he was "an asshole".
* * KeepCirculatingTheTapes: With ''Late Night'' co-owned by NBC Productions and Letterman's World Wide Pants, don't expect a "Best Of" DVD anytime soon.
* * LeftItIn: Letterman frequently says "We'll edit that out later." They never do.
* * LittleKnownFacts: "Fun Facts".
* * LogoJoke: The first airing of ''Late Show'' was prefaced with the {{CBS}} Creator/{{CBS}} ID of the era playing as normal, except Dave said "This is CBS" instead of the usual V/O guy, and he actually appeared midway through the ID.



* LongRunner: Dave just celebrated 30 years in late night television. However this is split between two shows, Late Night on NBC and CBS's the Late Show.
* LovelyAssistant: Grinder Girl and Hula Hoop Girl in "Will It Float?"
** The pair may also be an example of {{Ascended Extra}}s as well — both originally showed up in an earlier recurring sketch called "Is This Anything?", during which the audience was treated to a few seconds of someone's offbeat act, after which Dave and Paul would decide whether the act was "anything" worthwhile. ...They really liked Grinder Girl and Hula Hoop Girl.
* MediumAwareness
* OneOfUs: Dave has made it pretty blatant that he likes classic game shows, among other things.
* OnlySaneMan
* OrphanedPunchLine: [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNn60k4N9rU This clip]] from a 1985 episode has guest JohnnyCarson delivering the punchline to a joke that he'd started on ''TheTonightShow'' earlier that night: "And the man says to Mrs. O'Hara, 'I'm not so sure about that, he got out three times to go to the bathroom'."
* ThePeteBest: Frank Owen, Dave's Musical Director for his Morning Show before Paul.
* PlayingWithATrope
* TheRival: Jay "Big Jaw" Leno became this after he beat Letterman out as Carson's successor on ''Tonight'', and Dave moved to CBS to compete directly with Leno in the 11:30 PM slot. The bad blood resurfaced in 2009 after some of the worst ExecutiveMeddling of all time caused Leno to first move out of ''The Tonight Show'' and then back in after less than a year because of failing ratings. Letterman joined many others in accusing Leno of "reneging" on his previously-announced "retirement," although the move had been largely forced on Leno and he only reteurned after his ostensible successor, ConanOBrien (who had earlier succeeded Letterman himself on NBC's ''Late Night'' show), had already decided to leave. Despite the bump in Letterman's ratings the events caused, he still tends to come in behind Leno's.

to:

* LongRunner: Dave just celebrated 30 years in late night television. However this is split between two shows, Late Night on NBC and CBS's the Late Show.
*
Show.
*
LovelyAssistant: Grinder Girl and Hula Hoop Girl in "Will It Float?"
** ** The pair may also be an example of {{Ascended Extra}}s as well — both originally showed up in an earlier recurring sketch called "Is This Anything?", during which the audience was treated to a few seconds of someone's offbeat act, after which Dave and Paul would decide whether the act was "anything" worthwhile. ...They really liked Grinder Girl and Hula Hoop Girl.
* * MediumAwareness
* * OneOfUs: Dave has made it pretty blatant that he likes classic game shows, among other things.
* * OnlySaneMan
* * OrphanedPunchLine: [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNn60k4N9rU This clip]] from a 1985 episode has guest JohnnyCarson delivering the punchline to a joke that he'd started on ''TheTonightShow'' earlier that night: "And the man says to Mrs. O'Hara, 'I'm not so sure about that, he got out three times to go to the bathroom'."
* * ThePeteBest: Frank Owen, Dave's Musical Director for his Morning Show before Paul.
* * PlayingWithATrope
* * TheRival: Jay "Big Jaw" Leno became this after he beat Letterman out as Carson's successor on ''Tonight'', and Dave moved to CBS to compete directly with Leno in the 11:30 PM slot. The bad blood resurfaced in 2009 after some of the worst ExecutiveMeddling of all time caused Leno to first move out of ''The Tonight Show'' and then back in after less than a year because of failing ratings. Letterman joined many others in accusing Leno of "reneging" on his previously-announced "retirement," although the move had been largely forced on Leno and he only reteurned after his ostensible successor, ConanOBrien (who had earlier succeeded Letterman himself on NBC's ''Late Night'' show), had already decided to leave. Despite the bump in Letterman's ratings the events caused, he still tends to come in behind Leno's.



** Lampshaded to hilarious effect in a promo aired during Super Bowl XLIV.
** ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msC3uu4KZbg Law & Order: Jay Leno Victims Unit]]''.
* RunningGag: Often used to the point of being [[OverlyLongGag intentionally unfunny]] and arguably bordering on LampshadeHanging.
** One of Dave's more notable phrases, used when a joke falls flat, is "Not a match, the board goes back" — a phrase that should be familiar to anyone who has ever been thanked for playing ''{{Concentration}}''.
* {{Satire}}
* {{Sideboob}}: On this VerySpecialEpisode, the audience (and later all of Manhattan via the Jumbotron) gets a [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UUqwrpw3uA quick shot of Drew Barrymore's side boob]], while Birthday Boy Letterman gets to enjoy the full effect.
* SomethingCompletelyDifferent / ShowWithinAShow: ''Late Night'' would sometimes stage an entire episode in a bizarre, novel way.
** One night, he pretended it was ''The Morning Show with Dave & Tawny'' (perhaps a statement on his ill-fated eponymous 1980 series)...and actually [[WhatCouldHaveBeen seemed like a pretty decent idea]].

to:

** ** Lampshaded to hilarious effect in a promo aired during Super Bowl XLIV.
** ** ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msC3uu4KZbg Law & Order: Jay Leno Victims Unit]]''.
* * RunningGag: Often used to the point of being [[OverlyLongGag intentionally unfunny]] and arguably bordering on LampshadeHanging.
** ** One of Dave's more notable phrases, used when a joke falls flat, is "Not a match, the board goes back" — a phrase that should be familiar to anyone who has ever been thanked for playing ''{{Concentration}}''.
* * {{Satire}}
* * {{Sideboob}}: On this VerySpecialEpisode, the audience (and later all of Manhattan via the Jumbotron) gets a [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UUqwrpw3uA quick shot of Drew Barrymore's side boob]], while Birthday Boy Letterman gets to enjoy the full effect.
* * SomethingCompletelyDifferent / ShowWithinAShow: ''Late Night'' would sometimes stage an entire episode in a bizarre, novel way.
** ** One night, he pretended it was ''The Morning Show with Dave & Tawny'' (perhaps a statement on his ill-fated eponymous 1980 series)...and actually [[WhatCouldHaveBeen seemed like a pretty decent idea]].



** On another occasion, he let the audience vote via applause for a "custom-built show".
** Still another episode was an "upside-down show" where the camera rotated 360 degrees throughout the course of the hour.

to:

** ** On another occasion, he let the audience vote via applause for a "custom-built show".
** ** Still another episode was an "upside-down show" where the camera rotated 360 degrees throughout the course of the hour.



* StealthPun: A staple of Letterman comedy, especially in Top Ten Lists.
* StrawFan: Predominantly used by Letterman to mock his audience in the "Viewer Mail" segments.
* StudioAudience: Often had a love/hate relationship with Letterman in the mid-1980s; they're all adoration, all the time nowadays.
* [[ImpossiblyCoolClothes Suit Of Awesome]]: For a while in the 80s David had a number of special suits. Sitting in a giant bowl he was doused with barrels of milk while wearing a Suit of Rice Krispies; Hoisted by a crane he was placed in a giant glass of water wearing a Suit of Alka-Seltzer; And perhaps most famous of all - he jumped off a trampoline on to a wall while wearing a Suit of Velcro to see if he'd stick. He did. As Letterman himself freely admitted, these were inspired by Steve Allen, who during his run as host of ''TheTonightShow'', once sat in a giant tea cup with warm water and 200 lemon wedges while wearing a Suit of Teabags.
* SwivelChairAntics: Dave and Paul have raced down the halls of NBC on fire extinguisher powered office chairs.
* TalkShow
* TeensAreMonsters: "Dwight the Troubled Teen" skits.
* TheEponymousShow: Letterman's first morning show on NBC was ''The David Letterman Show''. But even today, his various incarnations are all lumped together as ''The Letterman Show''.
* TopTenList: Perhaps Letterman's most well-known Trope. An attempt to eradicate all of those insipid "top ten lists" forever, from the inside, by making lists so intentionally lame that the phenomenon would die on the spot. [[SpringtimeForHitler Ironically]], though, the Top Ten actually became one of Letterman's most popular bits, and is his hallmark to this day.
* TVStrikes: Letterman circumvented the 2007 WGA strike by negotiating a special deal that allowed his writers to return to work early.

to:

* * StealthPun: A staple of Letterman comedy, especially in Top Ten Lists.
* * StrawFan: Predominantly used by Letterman to mock his audience in the "Viewer Mail" segments.
* * StudioAudience: Often had a love/hate relationship with Letterman in the mid-1980s; they're all adoration, all the time nowadays.
* * [[ImpossiblyCoolClothes Suit Of Awesome]]: For a while in the 80s David had a number of special suits. Sitting in a giant bowl he was doused with barrels of milk while wearing a Suit of Rice Krispies; Hoisted by a crane he was placed in a giant glass of water wearing a Suit of Alka-Seltzer; And perhaps most famous of all - he jumped off a trampoline on to a wall while wearing a Suit of Velcro to see if he'd stick. He did. As Letterman himself freely admitted, these were inspired by Steve Allen, who during his run as host of ''TheTonightShow'', once sat in a giant tea cup with warm water and 200 lemon wedges while wearing a Suit of Teabags.
* * SwivelChairAntics: Dave and Paul have raced down the halls of NBC on fire extinguisher powered office chairs.
* * TalkShow
* * TeensAreMonsters: "Dwight the Troubled Teen" skits.
* * TheEponymousShow: Letterman's first morning show on NBC was ''The David Letterman Show''. But even today, his various incarnations are all lumped together as ''The Letterman Show''.
* * TopTenList: Perhaps Letterman's most well-known Trope. An attempt to eradicate all of those insipid "top ten lists" forever, from the inside, by making lists so intentionally lame that the phenomenon would die on the spot. [[SpringtimeForHitler Ironically]], though, the Top Ten actually became one of Letterman's most popular bits, and is his hallmark to this day.
* * TVStrikes: Letterman circumvented the 2007 WGA strike by negotiating a special deal that allowed his writers to return to work early.



* UnfortunateNames: For a month in 1995, Dave was absolutely obsessed with a man from Saskatchewan named Dick Assman. Yes, you read that right.

to:

* * UnfortunateNames: For a month in 1995, Dave was absolutely obsessed with a man from Saskatchewan named Dick Assman. Yes, you read that right.



* VanityPlate: Letterman's company, Worldwide Pants, has a vanity plate that is memorable for the non-sequiteur phrases announced during the display of the plate.

to:

* * VanityPlate: Letterman's company, Worldwide Pants, has a vanity plate that is memorable for the non-sequiteur phrases announced during the display of the plate.



* WorkedShoot: Letterman's infamous interview with actor/comedian AndyKaufman and pro wrestler JerryLawler has been confirmed as a staged event in the intervening years. Dave's disastrous chat with Crispin Glover, on the other hand, appears to be all too real.
* WhatCouldHaveBeen: The Super Bowl commercial with Oprah and Leno was planned to feature ConanOBrien, but Conan's deal with NBC stipulated that he couldn't appear on television for several months after leaving ''TheTonightShow''.

to:

* * WorkedShoot: Letterman's infamous interview with actor/comedian AndyKaufman and pro wrestler JerryLawler has been confirmed as a staged event in the intervening years. Dave's disastrous chat with Crispin Glover, on the other hand, appears to be all too real.
* * WhatCouldHaveBeen: The Super Bowl commercial with Oprah and Leno was planned to feature ConanOBrien, but Conan's deal with NBC stipulated that he couldn't appear on television for several months after leaving ''TheTonightShow''.



* WritingAroundTrademarks: Due to NBC owning the names (but not the formats) to several of Letterman's skits.
** The World's Most Dangerous Band [=-->=] The CBS Orchestra. [[hottip:*:(This is either a subtle TakeThat to NBC's "The NBC Orchestra" and/or a stealth tribute to Carson as The NBC Orchestra, led by Doc Severinsen, was featured on ''The Tonight Show''.)]]
** Viewer Mail [=-->=] CBS Mailbag.
** The Top Ten List [=-->=] The Late Show Top Ten List.
** Larry "Bud" Melman [=-->=] Calvert [=DeForest=].
* YourFavorite: Dave once had his Mother on the show to demonstrate how she made his favorite snack — Fried Bologna Sandwiches.

to:

* * WritingAroundTrademarks: Due to NBC owning the names (but not the formats) to several of Letterman's skits.
** ** The World's Most Dangerous Band [=-->=] The CBS Orchestra. [[hottip:*:(This [[note]](This is either a subtle TakeThat to NBC's "The NBC Orchestra" and/or a stealth tribute to Carson as The NBC Orchestra, led by Doc Severinsen, was featured on ''The Tonight Show''.)]]
**
)[[/note]]
**
Viewer Mail [=-->=] CBS Mailbag.
** ** The Top Ten List [=-->=] The Late Show Top Ten List.
** ** Larry "Bud" Melman [=-->=] Calvert [=DeForest=].
* * YourFavorite: Dave once had his Mother on the show to demonstrate how she made his favorite snack — Fried Bologna Sandwiches.
9th Aug '12 10:44:52 AM johnnyfog
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From the beginning, Letterman fashioned his persona as a smartass host that was "too hip" for the talk show format, and proceeded from there to make a mockery of the entire genre as a result — for instance, he would often [[SpringtimeForHitler barely hide his contempt]] for almost every aspect of show business, from his producers and writers, to his wardrobe director, his celebrity guests, his sidekick Paul Shaffer, and [[SelfDeprecation even his own fame]]. All of this pales, however, in comparison to his loathing for his hated "[[TheRival rival]]," Jay Leno, to whom he lost the coveted [[TheTonightShow ''Tonight Show'']] gig after Carson's retirement, a development about which he is still clearly bitter some two decades later.

Letterman took frequent shots at his network (first NBC, then CBS), and then his network's parent company when NBC was acquired by General Electric. He would intentionally bomb jokes in the monologue, and openly waste network airtime on ridiculous gags whose only purpose served to illustrate simply that, "Hey! I'm wasting NBC airtime here!" He eschewed the typical talk show uniform of a tailored suit in favor of a tie, a blazer, khakis...and white Adidas wrestling shoes.

He dropped random things off roofs, he blew random things up on the air, he staged impromptu audience competitions (in addition to showcasing Stupid Pet, and Human, Tricks), he used "viewer mail" segments as an excuse to break into various non sequitur-style sketches, he did stunts in a variety of ridiculous suits (made of velcro, tortilla chips, etc.), and essentially offered a biting parody of the [[HorribleHollywood Hollywood machine]] from the perspective of a Midwestern "everyman" who somehow found himself [[OnlySaneMan trapped inside the establishment]] at the height of its decadence.

to:

From the beginning, Letterman fashioned his persona as a smartass host that was "too hip" for the talk show format, and proceeded from there to make a mockery of the entire genre as a result — for instance, he would often [[SpringtimeForHitler barely hide his contempt]] contempt for [[HatesTheJobLovesTheLimelight almost every aspect of show business, business]], from his producers and writers, to his wardrobe director, his celebrity guests, his sidekick Paul Shaffer, and [[SelfDeprecation even his own fame]]. All of this pales, however, in comparison to his loathing for his hated "[[TheRival rival]]," rival]]" Jay Leno, to whom he lost the coveted [[TheTonightShow ''Tonight Show'']] gig after Carson's retirement, a development about which he is still clearly bitter some two decades later.

Letterman took frequent shots at his network (first NBC, then CBS), and then his network's parent company when NBC was acquired by General Electric. He would intentionally bomb jokes in the monologue, and openly waste network airtime on ridiculous gags whose only purpose served to illustrate simply that, "Hey! "[[SpringtimeForHitler Hey! I'm wasting NBC airtime here!" here!]]" He eschewed the typical talk show uniform of a tailored suit in favor of a tie, a blazer, khakis...and white Adidas wrestling shoes.

He dropped random things off roofs, he blew random things up on the air, on-air, he staged impromptu audience competitions (in addition to showcasing Stupid Pet, and Human, Tricks), he used "viewer mail" segments as an excuse to break into various non sequitur-style sketches, he did stunts in a variety of ridiculous suits (made of velcro, tortilla chips, etc.), and essentially offered a biting parody of the [[HorribleHollywood Hollywood machine]] from the perspective of a Midwestern "everyman" who somehow found himself [[OnlySaneMan trapped inside the establishment]] at the height of its decadence.
1st Aug '12 9:37:31 PM johnnyfog
Is there an issue? Send a Message


From the beginning, Letterman fashioned his persona as a smartass host that was "too hip" for the talk show format, and proceeded from there to make a mockery of the entire genre as a result — for instance, he would often barely hide his contempt for almost every aspect of show business, from his producers and writers, to his wardrobe director, his celebrity guests, his sidekick Paul Shaffer, and even his own fame. All of this pales, however, in comparison to his open contempt for his "[[TheRival rival]]," Jay Leno, to whom he lost the coveted [[TheTonightShow ''Tonight Show'']] gig after Carson's retirement, a development about which he is still clearly bitter some two decades later.

to:

From the beginning, Letterman fashioned his persona as a smartass host that was "too hip" for the talk show format, and proceeded from there to make a mockery of the entire genre as a result — for instance, he would often [[SpringtimeForHitler barely hide his contempt contempt]] for almost every aspect of show business, from his producers and writers, to his wardrobe director, his celebrity guests, his sidekick Paul Shaffer, and [[SelfDeprecation even his own fame. fame]]. All of this pales, however, in comparison to his open contempt loathing for his hated "[[TheRival rival]]," Jay Leno, to whom he lost the coveted [[TheTonightShow ''Tonight Show'']] gig after Carson's retirement, a development about which he is still clearly bitter some two decades later.



* {{Foil}}: During the rare times that {{Madonna}} was allowed to come on, she would happily ruin Letterman's planned schedule of events via grandstanding and showboating. This was likely out of revenge for Dave introducing her as someone who "slept with some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry."

to:

* {{Foil}}: During the rare times that {{Madonna}} was allowed to come on, she would happily ruin Letterman's planned schedule of events via grandstanding and showboating. This was likely out of revenge for Dave introducing her as someone who "slept with "[[BackhandedCompliment slept with]] some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry."



* SelfDeprecation
1st Aug '12 9:32:39 PM johnnyfog
Is there an issue? Send a Message


->''"Johnny, you keep using language like that and you're gonna find yourself out of a job!"''
-->-- '''JohnnyCarson'''[='s=] opening question to Dave on Letterman's first ''[[TheTonightShow Tonight Show]]'' appearance after NBC made their decision.

to:

->''"Johnny, you keep using language like that and you're [[GallowsHumor gonna find yourself out of a job!"''
job!]]"''
-->-- '''JohnnyCarson'''[='s=] '''Johnny Carson's''' opening question to Dave on Letterman's first ''[[TheTonightShow Tonight Show]]'' appearance after NBC made their decision.



He dropped random things off roofs, blew random things up on the air, staged impromptu audience competitions (in addition to showcasing Stupid Pet, and Human, Tricks), used "viewer mail" segments as an excuse to break out various non sequitur-style sketches, did stunts in a variety of ridiculous suits (made of velcro, tortilla chips, etc.), and essentially offered a biting parody of the Hollywood machine from the perspective of a Midwestern "everyman" who somehow found himself trapped inside the establishment at the height of its decadence.

to:

He dropped random things off roofs, he blew random things up on the air, he staged impromptu audience competitions (in addition to showcasing Stupid Pet, and Human, Tricks), he used "viewer mail" segments as an excuse to break out into various non sequitur-style sketches, he did stunts in a variety of ridiculous suits (made of velcro, tortilla chips, etc.), and essentially offered a biting parody of the [[HorribleHollywood Hollywood machine machine]] from the perspective of a Midwestern "everyman" who somehow found himself [[OnlySaneMan trapped inside the establishment establishment]] at the height of its decadence.
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