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Monday 18 May 2015
This is the last week of shows for David Letterman. For the next few days, we'll be bombarded by a stream of pro-Letterman hype and hyperbole in a desperate attempt to remind us that he was once relevant. Personally, I stopped caring about Letterman a long time ago, and I find this "retirement" nonsense long overdue.
Some say Dave's luster dimmed when he left NBC for CBS in 1993, but he still managed to be entertaining for a few years. I didn't lose respect for the man until about 2000. After a prolonged period of making biting, derogatory insults about Senate hopeful Hillary Clinton's reluctance to come on his program, he disappointingly turned into a lap dog when she finally arrived. Gone was sarcastic and clever Dave, replaced by some milquetoast who did nothing but make polite small talk and laugh at her jokes. If Dave wouldn't or couldn't follow up his bluster, he should have refused the interview rather than waste his audience's time shilling for another politician.
This transformation from comedic outsider to corporate tool roughly coincided with Letterman's heart bypass surgery. No one will argue that after Dave came back to television, he was but a shadow of his former self. It's startling to think that he's passed the intervening 14 years living on a reputation for irreverence earned in the 80s. Seeing him finally leave CBS is almost a relief.
Not that I wish Letterman any ill will. I just look forward to the arrival of his replacement. I've felt unmoored since Stephen Colbert left Comedy Central back in December. For nearly a decade, Colbert's show was righteously satirical consistently hysterical. I have my doubts that anything will soon take it's place, and I don't think that Colbert will even try on CBS. I don't look forward to seeing another talk show in the threadbare late-night mold, but if there's anyone I'm going to watch do it, it's Colbert.
So get out of the way, Letterman. Make some room for someone who still wants the job.
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