This page gives details of segments from the Late Show With David Letterman past and present.
Thanks to Steve from Australia – an avid Late Show watcher and fan – for his help with some of the content for this page.
Statue Of Liberty
Dave asks if anyone has been to the harbour recently and seen the Statue Of Liberty. He then flashes up a digitally-modified shot of the Statue Of Liberty. For example, when Dave had been talking about obesity in America he showed a picture of the Statue Of Liberty looking fat, and when he was talking about the evolution of women making them more beautiful he showed a picture of the Statue Of Liberty in a revealing dress.
Late Show Weight Loss Challenge
This segment began airing in early 2009. Late Show Staffer George Clarke is looking to lose some weight so has embarked on a weight loss programme with the help of the Late Show’s favourite doctor Dr. Louis Aronne. Every now and again Dave checks in with George and Dr Louis to check on the weight loss progress. In the segment there would be scales for George to stand on, an LCD TV displaying the weight when he stands on the scales, and the backdrop would be a curtain made up of red streamers (Dave often jokes that it’s an exact copy of Dr Louis’ office).
Late Show Top Ten
This segment has been going for a very long time (since the days of Late Night With David Letterman over on NBC). The Top Ten list usually appears daily – although sometimes they don’t have time to do it, or cut it from the show (often you will see Dave saying they will do the Top Ten list after the ad break, but it doesn’t appear). They sometimes get celebrities on to read the Top Ten list – including Billy Bob Thornton and the NASCAR drivers. The segment usually opens with Dave saying “Here’s tonight’s Top Ten list, let’s try this” – followed by an animated opening (usually a cab going through New York, panning between an animation of the Pyramids in Egypt or moving through the animated New York City buildings).
Men & Their Vegetables
This is a segment devised in mid-2009 whereby Dave would hold up cards with pictures of men and the huge vegetables they’ve grown. The segment plays out similar to how Small Town News works, with Dave sitting at his desk with the cards. Before the segment aired, Dave would hype it up in previous shows saying it’s the media event of the year.
Hosing people down on the street
During the summer (and sometimes when it’s cold) Dave sometimes used the Late Show hose which is attached to a post outside the Late Show building. He presses a button at his desk and it shoots water out at people on the street to cool them off. There’s also a loud speaker on that post and Dave sometimes shouts at people saying he’s Mayor Bloomberg and that he’s doing a public service keeping them cool in the summer months.
People in stores dressed as characters
Dave sometimes does a segment where he sends multiple numbers of people into a store such as Jamba Juice dressed as fictional or comic characters in order to see how long it would take for the restaurant or store management to act and evict the comically dressed people. An example of this is where Dave sent many people dressed as comic book heroes into a Jamba Juice to see how many could fit in there.
Getting drinks into the theatre through tubes
Dave wanted a tasty beverage from Jamba Juice so they hooked up an elaborate network of tubes to get the juice into the theatre from the Jamba Juice store across the street. They also did a similar thing with coffee.
The guy in the audience who swears at Dave and Paul
A guy would come out and swear at Dave and Paul.
Dave & Oprah’s Superbowl Of Love
This was a segment ran to try and get Oprah Winfrey to appear on the Late Show. Dave said he had a feud with Oprah which is why she wouldn’t appear on the programme.
Dr Phil’s Words Of Wisdom
Dave has always had a love-hate banter with Dr Phil – usually calling him a quack or a bonehead. In this segment, Dave would play a clip of Dr Phil’s show – Dr Phil would be offering some advice.
During special events, Dave’s mother (Dorothy) appears on the Late Show. They go direct to her house via satellite linkup but she sometimes comes to the theatre in person. She usually appears to present a Top Ten list (for example, when it’s her birthday) or in a “Guess The Pie” contest whereby she would bake pies and Dave would need to guess what the pie fillings are (this usually airs around Thanksgiving time).
Pat & Kenny Read Oprah Scripts
Late Show staffers Pat Farmer and Kenny would read out scripts from The Oprah Winfrey Show. After Dave finally got Oprah on the Late Show, this segment ended.
Dave Dorsett (the cameraman) falls asleep
This appears every so often – the cameraman Dave Dorsett would fall asleep or get bored and drop the camera so only the bottom half of Dave’s desk was visible. Dave would ask him what he was doing and he explains he fell asleep or got bored. Sometimes Dave Dorsett would get his coat on and leave.
Tony Mendez’s spanish rant
Cue card “boy” Tony Mendez would get upset at Dave and shout words in spanish then storm off the Late Show stage.
Dropping things off the roof of the Ed Sullivan building
Late Show staffers (usually Pat Farmer and his helpers) drop things off the roof of the Ed Sullivan building usually causing a mess on the sidewalk below. Such things as paint, marbles, bowling balls, bouncy balls and televisions have been thrown off the building’s roof over the years.
Outdoor segments featuring people and events on the street outside the building
The show often does features outside events. These include such things as Dave playing baseball with a sportsman who’s been a guest on the show that day, Dave playing tennis with a guest, etc. The Late Show also regularly gets stunts performed out on the street, including dogs running through an obstacle course, people throwing footballs through open taxi cab windows, people riding motorbikes over cars, people jumping over cars and soforth. There are so many outdoor events it’s hard to name them all.
People appearing behind Dave’s desk
Sometimes Dave is interrupted by a person walking into shot behind his desk. For example, someone dressed as an alien, a fake ticket tour offering tickets to the Superbowl, a Late Show writer attending the infamous Fire Dave Letterman rally in mid 2009 after the Sarah Palin controversy, etc. The fake ticket tout segment would usually entail Dave being offered tickets then the tout would shout “Heat!” when he thought the police were coming, and would then run off – spooking Dave as he ran off.
The guy living next door
In this segment introduced in 2009, Dave would be interrupted by a guy who lives in a room next to the Ed Sullivan Theatre and who comes out during the program to ask Dave and Paul to keep the noise down.
Famous people sitting in the audience
Celebrities such as Paul Newman, Tony Randall, Regis Philbin and Bruce Willis would sit in the audience and at some point Dave would become aware of him and a verbal exchange – obviously rehearsed before hand but still funny – would take place and the actor would get up and leave, sometimes in a pretend huff.
Sue Hum interrupting Dave
Wardrobe designer Sue Hum would walk out whilst Dave was talking and interrupt him – usually offering him cakes or other food. Dave would decline the offer and Sue would insult him and walk off.
Alan Kalter gets annoyed and walks off stage
Late Show announcer Alan Kalter would get annoyed and storm off the stage after insulting Dave. This segment is similar to what happens in Alan Kalter’s Celebrity Interviews, whereby Alan would get a celebrity in to interview only to discover Dave had just interviewed her on the Late Show already.
Alan Kalter gets beaten up
Alan would upset or annoy somebody resulting in him getting beaten up in a pretend fight. Dave often asks Alan if he was okay after the fake beating. The fighting usually looks so fake that Dave makes a comment about how Alan came within inches of one of the punches.
The Piedmont Bird Callers
Once a year Dave gets a group of people in to perform bird calling. They’re winners or runners-up from the annual Piedmont bird calling championships.
Dave gets a few kids in to perform science experiments – usually resulting in Dave making jokes and sometimes trying to do the experiments himselfs.
Late Show Fun Facts
This segment usually airs on a Friday and features fun and factual information sent across from Gary at the Federal Bureau Of Miscellaneous Information (the FBMI). Dave says he met Gary at Paul’s wedding. These facts can be humourous, thought-provoking or just plain odd.
Small Town News
The Small Town News segment starts with a catchy theme tune from Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra, and is similar to The Tonight Show With Jay Leno’s segment called Headlines. Dave reads out small pieces from newspapers that are odd or strange – including such things as music quartets with more than four people and misprints in newspaper adverts. Sometimes a town would be featured that isn’t exactly a “small town” and Dave would make a comment about it.
Stanley Cronkite in the CBS Store
This started in late 2008 and features the guy who plays Johnny Dark as somebody running the CBS Store next to the Ed Sullivan Theatre. Stanley Cronkite is seen behind the counter of the CBS Store waiting for customers to come in. When Dave asks if he’s been busy, in his sarcastic tone, he says to Dave “I’m glad you caught me now. The evening rush just ended”. Dave also asks whether he’s any relation to the legendary CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite, to which Stanley replies “no idea”.
Stupid Human Tricks and Stupid Pet Tricks
Featuring members of the public or pets who can do amazing things. This segment has been going since the days of Late Night With David Letterman on NBC. A notable edition of Stupid Pet Tricks featured a talking dog.
Alan Kalter’s Celebrity Interview
A spoof segment that appears every now and again. Dave cuts to Alan sitting with a guest who Dave has just interviewed. Alan then insults Dave for upstaging him and stealing his guest, then he storms off (usually after insulting the guest as well).
Will It Float?
Featuring the two Late Show girls standing next to a big see-through tub filled with water, Dave would instruct they drop an item in to see if it floats or sinks. Dave and Paul guessed whether they think it will float or sink before they drop it in. Alan Kalter always started the segment telling us what they can win tonight if they’re right (of course, this is pretend as there aren’t any prizes) and what the floating/sinking item is going to be. After Alan’s announcement, Dave then usually got out the fictitious Will It Float board game (and sometimes the fake Xbox and Playstation versions), and sometimes reminds us it’s based on the BBC’s “Is It Buoyant?” (which, of course, is not a real show).
Audience segments – Know Your Current Events, Audience Show And Tell and Stump The Band
All of these are audience segments where Dave goes down to stand in the Late Show audience and picks out a select few of people to take part in the game. Know Your Current Events usually consists of multiple categories and the audience member needs to select which one they’d like to answer questions from. These categories include Know Your Current Events and Know Your Cuts Of Meat. They are then presented with a question with a joke answer. Most of the time they guess incorrectly, and are given a dinner for two coupon and they used to be given Explodopop (It’s carbo-licious!) and another gift such as shampoo – but this rarely happens now (they are only given the dinner for two coupon). Dave would usually end up telling them the answers for Know Your Cuts Of Meat before they took part in the segment, which would make them get the right answers. Audience Show And Tell involves audience members showing or telling us something interesting – including appearing in TV shows and films as extras, being able to do something odd with their body or something similar. Stump The Band – as Dave says – was “stolen” from The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson. An audience member tells the band a song they know, then the band pretend they know it – and play a random song loosely related to the song title they were told. The audience member then sings the correct version of the song – and are given a prize (dinner for two, usually). Stump The Band used to begin with Paul Shaffer wearing a big hat doing a piece about knowing the answer to the question without having seen the question in the envelope before.
Is This Anything?
This segment used to be featured pretty regularly. One of the last times it aired was during an interview with Sharon Osbourne in 2007 when she was being interviewed about America’s Got Talent. It involved someone coming on to show a talent they have and Paul and Dave decide whether it’s “anything” or not. The act emerged from behind the curtain on the stage. The hula hoop girl and grinder girl were usually present during this feature.
Lyle The Intern
In this segment, Late Show intern Lyle comes out and sits in one of the guest chairs and chat to Dave about things going on in his life and he would offer advice to his “bro” Dave. Lyle is depicted as an easy-going student. Lyle The Intern is played by Jimmi Simpson. You may have also seen Jimmi in It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.
Let’s Talk About The Candidates
This was an audience segment where members of the audience ask questions about the 2008 Presidential candidates to Dave and Dave would try to answer them. The segment always ended with Dave revealing that someone has dropped out of the Presidential race and someone posing as an audience member would say “What? I can’t believe it!” and go screaming out of the back doors of the theatre, punching some Late Show staffers on the way through.
This segment first appeared in early 2008. Dave sometimes interrupts other bits of the show with this segment. It usually appeared during the Fun Facts segment but has also interrupted other ones as well – including the Top Ten list. In the Action News piece, Dave looks at the camera – normally to the side of the desk – and reads out some cheesy news headlines and funny news stories in the style of a stereotypical US news anchor. The piece ends with “That’s all coming up tonight on Action News”. Of course, there’s no such show as Action News.
Johnny Twain Tonight (originally called Mark Twain Tonight)
Johnny Dark (from the old CBS Page segments) is sitting down in his chair out in the main area of the stage. In this segment he plays a comedian in the style of Mark Twain (so he’s known as Johnny Twain in this), with an act usually starting with “Oh hello, sorry I didn’t hear you come in”. Jokes include “My wife is so ugly last night she was at the beauty shop for two hours – that was only for the estimate”.
Johnny Lincoln Tonight
Similar to Johnny Twain Tonight, but this time Johnny Dark is playing Abraham Lincoln.
Osama Bin Laden tapes
Every now and again Dave reveals there’s a new tape supposedly from Osama Bin Laden. Some old Bin Laden footage is shown dubbed over by a Late Show voiceover guy. The voiceover guy usually ends with “oh and death to America”.
Great Moments In Presidential Speeches
This feature started off with clips of two past US Presidents then cuts to George W. Bush making himself look stupid – stuttering over his words, forgetting what he’s doing, not knowing his left from his right, trying to go out of a locked door, and so on. This segment was dropped from the Late Show when Barack Obama became US President. This segment used to appear on the Late Show almost every night. There were also times where they would digitally change the Presidents in the speeches with Late Show staffers – for example, they had Tony Mendez holding up cue cards and Sue Hum touching up make up – and various staffers taking turns to sit in the audience (digitally added) of a Presidential speech (namely Alan Kalter, Johnny Dark and others).
Lt. Len Easton of the California Highway Patrol
This segment used to appear quite often. The phone on Dave’s desk would ring and Dave would comment on how that was strange and it’s not been plugged in for years. He would then pick up the phone and a highway patrolman called Len Easton would be on the other end of the line. Len Easton couldn’t hear what Dave was saying though. It would sound like it was a police radio intercepted and the Len Easton character on the phone would say he was part of the California highway patrol followed by some police reports regarding what he’s doing on his patrol at the moment. The phonecall would usually end with inaudible high-pitched speaking from the guy on the other end of the phone and Dave telling him to go away. The character of Len Easton was voiced by Jeff Altman.
Old Turkey Buzzard
Dave used to be obsessed with the song Old Turkey Buzzard and it used to play whenever he threw one of his blue cards through the window behind the desk. They even booked the singer (Jose Feliciano) on the show to perform the song live.
This was exactly the same as the segment mentioned above except they used the song Wildfire. Again, they had the singer of Wildfire on the show at one point to perform it live. Wildfire was used first and then the segment was changed to use Old Turkey Buzzard instead.
Deborah Lynn in the Hello Deli
There have been a few Hello Deli segments featuring Deborah Lynn. Deborah is a psychic and has been involved in segments like Psychic Sandwich (where she had to try to guess what sandwich she was holding whilst blindfolded).
What’s On The iPod?
This game appears every now and again and involves Rupert in the Hello Deli putting on his iPod headphones and singing (badly) to the song he’s listening to. A contestant picked from outside the deli has to guess what Rupert’s singing. The contestant wins a prize and a deli platter if they guess correctly.
Johnny Dark has been on many different programmes over the years, but came to the Late Show a few years ago. His act consists of sarcastic remarks, quick wit humour and insults to Dave and othe Late Show staffers. He usually stood by the stairwell in the theatre and spoke to Dave about what’s happening in his life, and he would usually end the segment by lighting up a cigarette with Dave telling him he didn’t think he was allowed to smoke in the theatre building. Johnny also sometimes finished his act by riding on his imaginary horse. He has also been a couch guest before, instead of standing by the stairwell. When Dave asked him how it was working for CBS for 38/39 years, he would say “Living the dream Dave – living the frigging dream”.
This segment was brought across from NBC (but changed it’s name from Viewer Mail to CBS Mailbag). This segment is no longer shown on the Late Show. It’s not known why the piece was axed – I used to really enjoy it. Viewers from home used to send Dave mail (or emails) which he would read out on air and answer any questions from them – with some amusing outcomes.
Putting Away The Late Show Bear
Ran for one season, I think. Used to involve a man in a bear costume down in the basement of the Ed Sullivan Theater – and they used to get one of the Late Show staffers or a member of the audience to lock him away behind a heavy door. The bear used to be sponsored by various people each time – Dave saying any company can buy this (fictitious) sponsorship to have their company name on the bear’s t-shirt. Dave always described the bear as “rabid” and “grizzly”.
Late Show Week In Review
This used to be a regular segment on the Late Show most weeks (used to air once a week – usually at the end of the week). Featuring some funny observations from the past week.
May We Shave You For Spring?
I think this was a one-off segment on the Late Show with Rupert Jee in the Hello Deli. He would go out into the street to find someone who they could shave. When he found the guy with a beard, they’d bring him into the deli and lay him down on a barber’s chair and shave off his beard.
A Message From George W. Bush
This piece used to be shown before being replaced by Great Moments In Presidential Speeches. It used to have the same layout as Great Moments In Presidential Speeches, except without the past President clips before George W. Bush’s clip. It used to show George W. Bush messing something up. Other variations existed – for Dick Cheney and other people. They also did a version called “George W. Bush – What?!”.
True Tales Of New York City Accountants
This segment usually appears on the Late Show during the tax season every year. It consists of a clip of a real New York City accountant (usually sitting in their office) doing something amusing.
True Tales Of Late Show Interns
Similar to True Tales Of New York City Accountants but featuring Late Show interns showing us things we didn’t know about the Late Show behind-the-scenes.
Biff Henderson’s Sidewalk Olympics
This segment showed Biff going out on the street to find New York olympic events using things like New York cabs and hot dog stalls.
Harold Larkin’s Ice Breakers
Late Show staffer Harold Larkin went out on the street to inflict his “ice breakers” on people – including using loud sirens and megaphones, etc.
More With Les
Dave gets CBS President Les Moonves on the phone to discuss football, and upcoming CBS schedules amongst other things.
Bird Flu And You with Pat Farmer
A one-off segment (around the time of the bird flu outbreak) featuring Pat Farmer explaining how to avoid bird flu – ending in a fake death in a taxi cab. As Dave’s always says, as it’s a pandemic you must remember to sterilize your pan!
Hello Deli Easter Meatball Hunt
A one-off segment for easter – featuring someone from outside the Hello Deli coming in to play a game with Rupert – an easter egg hunt – but with meatballs instead of easter eggs.
Why They Won’t Be On The Late Show
A piece explaining why guests won’t be on the Late Show (at the time, featuring waxworks of various celebrities). The segment was also done for a second time – with a slightly different layout – and a musical theme (Martin Short came out to sing).
7-Eleven giveaways with 7-Eleven CEO Jim Keyes
Someone claiming to be CEO of 7-Eleven stores, Jim Keyes, comes out to talk to Dave and the audience about their latest promotion all thanks to Dave’s generosity. Jim used to say Dave was offering 7-Eleven free slurpees, muffins and hot dogs if you just go into a store and tell them that Dave sent you. Jim Keyes popped up on the Late Show a few times to announce various fictional giveways to celebrate different events and times of the year. The segment would normally end with Paul Shaffer asking Dave if that was actually the real CEO of 7-Eleven. Dave usually said he didn’t think it was.
George Clarke’s It’s A Fact
This segment features George Clarke appearing on camera bruised and beaten saying something like “Women on the street don’t like to be called ‘candy pants’… it’s a fact!”.
Crescent Springs Village
Dave goes off to his special ‘living room’ set in the theatre and usually sits on an armchair or stands next to one. He starts to read out a promotional speech for selling property at Crescent Springs Village. This is a send up of those timeshare commercials you sometimes see. Dave says there’s a golf course there too… of course it’s not really a real place. Dave would usually end the segment saying something like “Crescent Springs Valley really does have it all”.
Pat Farmer’s Anything Can Be Musical
This segment originally featured back in 2005. Dave would cut over to Pat who would be ready to prove anything can be musical including socket wrenches.
Bionic Guy with Chris Elliott
This was a one-off video piece starring Chris Elliott. Of course there’s The Bionic Woman but this is Bionic Guy (not The Bionic Guy). Chris has never heard of The Bionic Woman before when Dave questions him about it. The video segment sees Chris Elliott as Bionic Guy.
Gerry & Chris’s Kitchen Nightmares
Gerard Mulligan and Chris Elliott with a new pretend programme for CBS, which is remarkably similar show to Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. As per the Bionic Guy segment, Chris Elliott and Gerard don’t know what Dave’s talking about when he questions him about how they came up with the idea.
Skink The Bounty Hunter with Chris Elliott and Gerard Mulligan
This video segment appeared a few times. It featured Gerard Mulligan and Chris Elliott taking the law into their own hands – like the programme Dog The Bounty Hunter.
Dave working at the McDonalds drive-thru
Dave would pose as a McDonalds employee for people going through the drive-thru with some hilarious responses. Letterman asked some people if they could go out and get some more onions – as they were running a little low – and some ground beef.
Dave Working in Taco Bell
Similar to the segment above, but this time Dave worked at Taco Bell.
Fitness guru Richard Simmons would appear on the Late Show regularly until Dave got annoyed with him and they haven’t had him back on the show for segments since. Richard has been on the Late Show as guest since though. The infamous Richard Simmons appearance was when Dave sprayed him with a fire extinguisher to get him off the stage. Dave still sometimes plays the clip of him spraying Richard with the extinguisher.
A Monkey Sneezing
This segment used to air late 2008 to early 2009. It used to feature a monkey sneezing. It was a video clip of a money sitting on a chair at a party silently before sneezing loudly.
Announcer Alan Kalter would appear and tell us all about his website KalterWorld.com which has “the finest in adult toys, games, and novelties”. This website is of course a fake website setup by the Late Show – KalterWorld.com redirects to the official Late Show website.
Alan Kalter Talks Sexy
Announcer Alan Kalter looks to the camera and talks sexy to the people at home or sometimes directs his attention to a celebrity, and end this with a series of groans and moans. Dave would often tell Alan to stop as he’s “making us all sick”.
Alan Kalter Makes Your Product Sound Sexy
Alan would promote a product in his own unique style.
Charts And Graphs
Dave would hold up cards displaying various charts and graphs, but each chart/graph would contain some interesting facts and measurements. For example “What will be the top priority of the next president? 43%: Stabilizing Iraq. 31%: Stabilizing climate change. 26% Stabilizing The View”.
Dave talks to Dave Johnson about the Kentucky Derby
This happens every year just before the annual Kentucky Derby horse race. Dave Johnson would be on the telephone talking to Dave about his predictions for the upcoming race and would recreate his iconic “and down the stretch they come” – which Dave always says sends makes his hairs stand on end.
True Tales From The Old West with Bob “BB” Boberson
An old-time Old West storyteller would be shown reciting an Old West story, which usually has a bit of an abrupt or odd ending.