David Letterman signed off of “The Late Show with David Letterman” last night after 33 years, which evens out to 6028 shows, and as he joked, 8 minutes of laughter. He got things started with a bang, not by having a bunch of well-known comedian pals send him off, but by aiming a little higher. The famous footage of President Gerald Ford saying our long national nightmare was over was the first thing to appear, which was followed by George H.W. Bush repeating the phrase, then Bill Clinton repeating the phrase, then George W. Bush, then President Obama, who got to be the one to tell Dave, personally, that his show was ending.
From there, he moved on to the monologue, during which he might have gotten the biggest reaction for joking that “It’s beginning to look like I’m not going to get ‘The Tonight Show.’” That wasn’t the only time he got a little meta – he pointed out that ending the show means he’ll have to go on other people’s shows when he messes up, a reference to the time he announced his own blackmail scandal during his monologue.
But wait, what about the Top 10 list! Not to worry, Letterman didn’t disappoint. He got quite the all star list of celebs to come in and read each number of the list, which was “Top 10 things I’ve always wanted to say to David Letterman.” It began with Alec Baldwin and ended with Bill Murray, who told Letterman he was never going to pay him back for the money he owes him. There was also both a “Seinfeld” reunion and a “30 Rock” reunion onstage, as Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis Dreyfus, Tina Fey and Baldwin all read off numbers. But Letterman seemed most overcome by Peyton Manning’s appearance. Must be the Indiana native in him.
Letterman kept the show light and funny throughout, getting heartfelt only when he took the time to praise his writers and crew for their hard work, carefully introducing each band member and saying his band was way better than he was, and thanking his family. We liked that Letterman’s son wanted a shoutout for the buddy he’d brought along, and that his dad obliged. Big night for little Tommy Romano, or whatever his name was.
Speaking of kids, viewers were treated to a retrospective of the many awkward kid videos Letterman made over the years. We were particular fans of the kid who suggested his sister was going to an upholstery farm, and definitely not a poultry farm, as well as the kid who got fed up with Letterman goofing on Christmas carols and sang “You are not funny.” It was one of several flashbacks to earlier “Late Show” segments, which also included the time he stepped in to work at a Taco Bell drive through, and the time something got lit on fire onstage.
The show closed, fittingly, with the Foo Fighters playing “Everlong” over a slideshow of memorable moments on the show. They also came on to play that song after Letterman returned from heart surgery years ago, and he brought them back one last time for his big finale. Because when you're David Letterman, you get to have your favorite band come in to play you off. We think he's probably earned that particular honor at this point.