DJ Badger:  The News and the Journal

Entry One Hundred Ninety.
Thursday, 2015.05.21, 1:06 AM CST.

The end of an era:  the retirement of David Letterman.
Current Mood:  Sad.
Current Scent:  None.

For several weeks, I have had a blog update "just about ready" to post regarding health and fitness, but haven't been happy enough with it to go ahead and post it.  I've meant to post about my performances at "An Old School Techno Night," "80s Prom," and other recent DJ events.  I've also intended on posting on the 25th anniversaries of the release of Depeche Mode's "Violator," my senior prom, and other such things.

I've wanted to post a lot more here.  I'm sorry that I haven't.  I really, sincerely hope to catch up someday.

David LettermanIt's a little past 1:00 AM, and about an hour ago I finished watching the final episode of CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman."  I wanted to make sure and commemorate this on my site as quickly as I could, and for very good reason.

As many of you know, I love comedy.  I love good comedy movies (and a few crappy ones), and I am a big fan of stand-up comedy when it's done well.  I personally have performed comedic poetry and whatnot at the Gypsy Coffee House open mic night, off and on, for over a decade.  Music will always be a higher personal passion than comedy, but comedy is still a pretty big deal, and I like to think that I'm generally considered to be a funny person.

If you had asked me, at any point in the last three decades, who my comedic influences were, David Letterman would have ranked near the top of the list, and most likely AT the top of the list.  Letterman's dry, sarcastic, and oftentimes self-deprecating wit has always been a MASSIVE influence on me, and not just comedically.  Some of my everyday mannerisms and ways of speaking in certain situations can be directly attributed to how much I watched Letterman when I was young and how strongly he influenced my behaviour.



Now, I know that Letterman has had some pretty major shortcomings, the most public of which has been his inappropriate involvement with female members of his staff a few years back.  He's done some awful stuff, and he's owned up to it.  He's not perfect, and I don't see him as a role model, but I still respect him tremendously for his talent and the effect he's had on me.

I have a lot of very special memories of David Letterman.  I first heard of him back when I was in middle school in the early 1980s, taking a computer class in the high school because I was "gifted."  There was this one high schooler named Neil - lanky, kind of bug-eyed, and very funny - who loved using the phrase "boy howdy."  He used it often, and he repeatedly asked me if I knew where it came from.  Originally, I had no idea.  "David Letterman," he excitedly told me.

At the time, the only "Letterman" I had heard of was the "Letterman jacket" worn on "Happy Days."  I had no idea who "David Letterman" was, but I soon found out.  By the time my middle school days had ended, I had become a seasoned pro at following Letterman's goofy adventures on his show ("Late Night with David Letterman" on NBC back in the day).



Some of the things he did were just pointless and silly, but they were side-splittingly funny and often fascinating.  I remember watching him put on a suit covered in Alka-Seltzer tablets, then having himself lowered into a big vat of water.  I remember him putting on a suit covered in Velcro and bouncing up via trampoline to "stick" himself onto a specially-prepared Velcro wall.

I remember him showcasing "Stupid Pet Tricks," and soon after that, starting to have people on to perform "Stupid Human Tricks."  I remember his hilarious exchanges with "The Guy Under the Seats," an unstable character portrayed by Chris Elliott.  I remember the monkey cam (a cam strapped to a monkey, who was then allowed to run frantically around the stage), and "Pea Boy" (a nerdy kid in a big pea costume, walking around the audience throwing handfuls of peas up into the air).

I remember his many exchanges with the late Larry "Bud" Melman, stage manager Biff Henderson, and Rupert Gee, the owner of the Hello Deli near Letterman's studio.

And, I remember him orchestrating rooftop sessions in which various items were dropped into an empty lot below, just to see what they would look like as they hit the ground.  Watermelons were the most well-known, exploding like fireworks when seem from a birds-eye camera view.



I would often watch Letterman while at home during my middle school and high school years, usually while procrastinating while I was supposed to be doing my homework.  Often, my mother, who passed away in 2007, would stay up with me (she was a night owl as well) and watch "Late Night."  We would laugh and laugh as he had conversations with New York businessmen Mujibur and Sirajul, and we would cackle as he did things like telling people in a laundromat to pour in an entire box of laundry detergent (which, to his shock and the laundromat owner's dismay, ended up sending uncontrollable volleys of foam out of the machine onto the floor).

When I left for college, I didn't watch him as often, but I specifically remember in 1993 (crazy year all around) when he moved from NBC to CBS.  My Northeastern State University friend Tom "Gilligan" Holbrook and I got together to watch the opening of the new "Late Show," and, of course, we hoped that it would last.  It ran for another twenty-two years.



This final episode of "Late Show" was touching to the point of being heart-wrenching.  Letterman's career, spanning more than three decades in full, was coming to an end.  Letterman was retiring.  Over the course of the episode, he gave elabourate thanks to his staff, to his band, to his family, and to the viewers at home... but at the very end, when musical guests Foo Fighters took the stage, he didn't present a lengthy goodbye.  He didn't shed a tear or break down; I can't recall his exact words, but they effectively stated "I don't have anything more to do now that I've introduced Foo Fighters, so good night."

And with that, my favourite late night host of all time brought his series to a close.

David Letterman will never know who I am.  I am but a speck of dust among his millions of fans.  Nonetheless, my behaviour will forever be branded by his influence.  I will still very dryly make fun of myself for a cheap laugh.  I will still occasionally ask the question "How much time we got, Hal?," and I will still explain to people that it's something Letterman used to regularly ask Hal Gurnee, the director of his late night shows up until 1995.

I will still, occasionally, use the phrase "boy howdy" to express my excitement - either genuinely or sarcastically - and every single time, I will think of that guy named Neil back at school and how much he loved David Letterman.

I will always remember and cherish those many nights staying up with my mom, laughing like mad at episodes of "Late Night" while drinking more Ovaltine than I probably should have and munching on snacks like these amazing little microwaveable jelly doughnuts that she used to pick up at the frozen foods section of the supermarket.

They don't make those doughnuts anymore.

Mom died in 2007.

And now, David Letterman has ended his run, and an era has ended.

I feel a little emptier tonight.  More later.