The final episode of the Late Show With David Letterman aired on CBS last night.
After 33 years on late night TV spanned across NBC and CBS, David Letterman took a bow and made his exit.
The days and weeks leading up to this finale have been filled with incredible guests, unforgettable moments and retrospective looks at various moments over the years.
Over the last couple of weeks alone we’ve had the likes of:
Howard Stern & Don Rickles
President Bill Clinton
Adam Sandler’s fantastically-heartfelt song for Dave
Letterman favourite Julia Roberts
Paul Shaffer as a guest
Al Pacino helping with the Top Ten numbers
The one & only Oprah Winfrey
Norm Macdonald’s incredibly-moving words to Dave
Regis Philbin dropping by during the monologue
Friend of the show Tom Hanks
The Late Show staffers with their own Top Ten list
Long-time friend Bill Murray popping out of a cake on the penultimate show
Bob Dylan’s chilling and highly-appropriate song on the penultimate show
Rupert Jee coming in for a quick chat and to look at old VT
All of this was leading up to the final moment – the last ever episode of the Late Show With David Letterman and the last time we’ll likely see Dave in the Ed Sullivan Theater building.
If you thought the shows leading up to last night’s ending were unbelievable you were right, but this send-off was absolutely perfect and couldn’t have been done any better either.
The final show overran by around 15-20 minutes but CBS were kind enough to delay the start of The Late Late Show With James Corden as it was the last show.
The show started with a cold open – a video piece of US Presidents saying “our long national nightmare is over” with Obama tagging on “… Letterman is retiring”.
After the cold open the show started as normal with Alan Kalter reading out his opening lines over the titles and introducing Dave. For Dave’s final Alan Kalter introduction they opted for “a boy from a small town in Indiana”. Dave then enjoyed an unbelievably-long & loud standing ovation from the crowd and Dave delivered his final (very strong) monologue.
Dave had some kind words for Stephen Colbert near the start of the episode, wishing him well for when he takes over the Late Show in the very same theatre in a few months time.
The last ever Top Ten list featured many famous faces, all of whom are friends of the show – including Bill Murray who had been the guest on the show the night before. This was one of the most memorable Top Ten lists I’ve seen in recent years. Very strong.
One of the most interesting pieces for me on the last show last night was the segment they devoted to a “behind the scenes” look at the workings of the show, how it’s put together and a sneak peak into the Late Show offices. It really was fascinating and I had no idea the offices were so vast or that Dave truly did have quite a lot of involvement in putting the show together. He used to joke how he would turn up just before a taping (“I skipped rehearsal”) and out he went, but it really looked like he had full days in the Ed Sullivan Theater piecing shows together with his staff.
Throughout the programme Dave was running old clips into and out of the commercial breaks and also took a look back at some old segments during the show – namely the Taco Bell segment and his interviews with kids.
Dave’s wife Regina, his son Harry and Harry’s friend were in the audience for the taping and they cut to them near the end with Dave reaching out with a touching sentiment saying there’s nothing else that matters in the world other than his wife and kid.
Dave’s final words on the show were “thank you and goodnight”.
The final musical guests on the Late Show With David Letterman last night were the Foo Fighters who Dave loves immensely ever since (as he remembered fondly on last night’s show) they cancelled half of their tour just because Dave requested they played his favourite song on his first show back after his heart surgery years ago.
Last night they played the very same song they played on that show after Dave’s surgery (Everlong) which Dave has always said is his favourite song.
Whilst they played a 6 minute montage of photos and video clips played showing all of the best bits from the last 33 years in bitesize form. It really was an incredible highlights package and was timed beautifully with the live music.
A specially-created end credits sequence brought the Late Show to a close.
So, after its premiere on CBS back in 1993, the Late Show With David Letterman is no more.
Dave hasn’t stated yet what (if anything) he’s planning to do now he’s retired from the late night talk show game but no doubt we’ll see him in some shape or form on television in the future.
Enjoy your hard-earned break Dave. Thanks for the memories, the highs and the lows.
Remember folks, there’s no off position on the genius switch and always heimlich your monkey.
Demolition of the current Late Show stage and set is already well underway and by the time you read this it’s probably mostly all gone from inside the theatre. Some of the iconic backdrop and props are thought to be going to the Smithsonian whereas the rest is either put into skips or taken home by staffers.