WEDNESDAY MAY 20, 2015. Show #4214
A special Top Ten List, and Foo Fighters. Plus: Dave’s emotional goodbye to the staff; Comedy we would have done tomorrow; The Simpsons watching the Late Show; “Wheel of Fortune” chimes in; Dave and Kids; Dave works at Taco Bell; a Day In The Life; Dave thanks those most important; and Foo Fighters take us home.
President Gerald Ford: “My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.”
President George H.W. Bush: “Our long national nightmare is over.
President Bill Clinton: “Our long national nightmare is over.”
President George W. Bush: “Our long national nightmare is over.”
President Barack Obama (in our green room): “Our long national nightmare is over . . . . Letterman is retiring.”
Dave shyly steps in, with a bit of a giggle: “Heh heh heh. . . . you’re . . .you’re just kidding, right?”
President Obama gives a “No, it’s a fact” smirk.”
“From a magical place not found on any map, it’s the Late Show with David Letterman. Tonight: A special Top Ten list, and Foo Fighters. Plus: Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra. I’m Alan Kalter. And now, a boy from a small town in Indiana . . . . . . . . David Letterman!”
The long ovation worried me a bit. It was taking time away from all we had prepared. A chant of “Dave Dave Dave” went up from the lucky 500 who got the golden ticket for tonight’s show. There were more special guests in the audience than usual, but the great majority was just regular fans who wrote in for tickets. My first thought of seeing Dave on the stage of the Ed Sullivan Theater for maybe the very last time: “His last show . . . .and he’s wearing that tie?” It was a blue tie with white polka dots. Nothing wrong with that, but for some reason whenever Dave wore a polka-dotted tie, it caught my eye. A while back, Dave once joked about a green tie with polka he was wearing. He suggested a contest to guess how many dots were on the tie. It ended there, but I was gladdened to see that I wasn’t the only one who was curious about the polka dots.
- “I want to tell you one thing . . .I’m going to be honest with you . . .it doesn’t look like I’ll be getting the Tonight Show.”
- “Here’s the problem when you don’t have your own show anymore. When I screw up now, and Lord knows I will be screwing up, I’ll have to go on someone else’s show to apologize.”
- “How long have we been on the air? When we started, the hottest program on the air was ‘Keeping Up With The Gabors.’”
- “Remember Elian Gonzalez? The kid from Cuba left Cuba but Cuba wanted him back so we sent him back. The little kid is now 21 years old and yesterday he said he wanted to return to the United States. Now my question to you is . . . should I take this personally?”
We take a look at Dave’s emotional farewell statement to the staff from earlier today. We see a gaggle of staffers killing time in a conference. Killing time, or as the staff calls it, “work.” As they mingle, a hologram of Dave appears. The translucent Dave blows them a kiss, then another, then waves goodbye as the Dave-hologram disappears. The staff weakly return a goodbye wave as they wonder, “Is that it?” It’s a reaction many Late Show fans had after most shows.
Hey! Todd gets one more appearance on the Late Show. Dave knew it was time to go when cue card boy, Todd, told him he couldn’t write the words any bigger. We cut to Todd who is holding a cue card. The cue card reads, “ . . . G E R.”
A favorite comedy piece of Dave’s . . . . it’s comedy we would have done if we had a show on Thursday. We take a look.
ART CARD: COMEDY WE WOULD HAVE DONE TOMORROW
Clip of Hillary.
ANNOUNCE: “Hillary will personally apologize to you for financial improprieties in an exchange for a donation.”
Clip from “Mad Max” movie.
ANNOUNCE: “A ‘Mad Max” tie-in promotion from Supercuts.”
Photo of Mike Huckabee’s face on a Big Boy Hamburger caricature.
ANNOUNCE: “And Mike Huckabee’s face on a thing”
ANNOUNCE: “This has been ‘Comedy We Would Have Done Thursday”
Dave has had some trouble sleeping, especially last night. He was flipping through the channels and saw something that he thought was sorta enjoyable. Luckily, he had his TIVO running. He brought it in to show us what he saw. It was an episode from The Simpsons.
Homer and Marge are sitting on the sofa watching the Late Show. Dave turns and throws a blue card with the windowless window behind him. We hear a glass crash. Homer reacts in hilarity.
HOMER: (laughing hysterically) “He broke the window . . . . again!”
MARGE: “Gosh, Homey, Dave’s been on the air for 33 years. Back then, Bart and Lisa were kids, and Maggie was still just a baby.”
The shot widens to reveal that Bart and Lisa are still kids, and Maggie is still just a baby. Smart kid, that Maggie. Did you notice her blocks spelled out: “Worldwide Pants”?
There’s a lot of things Dave just doesn’t get. He thinks they were trying to be supportive . . .but isn’t quite sure. He was watching “. . . . not ‘Jeopardy’ . . . the other one . . .” He was watching the “Wheel of Fortune” and he saw this.
PAT SAJAK: “It’s Toss-Up time again, our third of the night.”
We see a 5-word WOF puzzle.
After three letters are revealed, the middle contestants rings in with his guess.
CONTESTANT: “Good riddance to David Letterman” DING!!!!!
Back from commercial, we see a clip from Dave’s daytime show from August 27, 1980. Staff and crew and friends were celebrating the 50th anniversary of a couple who were married for 50 years. There was much confetti and sparklers. Unfortunately, confetti and sparklers don’t mix. A small fire starts on stage which has to be doused with an extinguisher.
Dave shares his best wishes to Stephen Colbert who will be gracing these floors in September. Quick and to the point and from the heart. We all wish him the best and to keep the Late Show good name alive and thriving.
Dave and the kids . . . the kids love Dave. We take a look at Dave and time spent with the kids here at the Late Show.
“Guess my favorite food.” (Dave whispers into kid’s ear: “Pie”)
- “Nope. Meatloaf”
“Years and years ago when I was in prison, Santa came to see us. Of course in prison, there are no chimneys because the cons would be going over the wall left and right. And you know what Santa brought me? A carton of Lucky Strike cigarettes”
“An upholstery farm”
“What’s your favorite food?”
“It’s not dangerous . . . normally”
“I was supposed to have braces when I was a kid but my parents used the money to buy a wet bar for the basement”
“How many friends do you have?”
- “Oh, about none.”
“Do you think there may be a lesson to be learned here?”
- “Accidents happen.”
“Want to say ‘Hi’ to Rachel?”
– “Hi, Rachel.”
“You are not, you are not, you are not funny”
Bumper: October 15, 1980 – Andy Kaufman and his runny nose on “The David Letterman Show”
Top Ten Things I Always Wanted To Say To Dave – With 10 frequent and favorite guests of ours over the years.
10. Alec Baldwin: “Of all the talk shows, yours is most geographically convenient to my home.”
9. Barbara Walters: “Did you know that you wear the same cologne as Muammar Qaddafi?”
8. Steve Martin: “Your extensive plastic surgery was a necessity . . . . and a mistake.”
7. Jerry Seinfeld: “I have no idea what I’ll do when you go off the air . . . You know, I just thought of something–I’ll be fine.”
6. Jim Carrey: “Honestly, Dave, I’ve always found you to be a bit of an over-actor.” The bearded Jim Carrey then musses and makes a crazy, googly-eyed face.
5. Chris Rock: “I’m just glad your show is being given to another white guy.”
4. Julia Louis-Dreyfus: “Thanks for letting me take part in another hugely disappointing series finale.”
Julia’s statement finally sinks in to Jerry. Hey!?
3. Peyton Manning: “You are to comedy what I am to comedy.”
2. Tina Fey: “Thanks for finally proving men can be funny.”
1. Bill Murray: “Dave, I’ll never have the money I owe you.”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus originally had a different one. We offered another and then another, neither of which appealed to her or to us. Someone suggested one that was a backup for Jerry Seinfeld, and that’s what we went with. The one she read was originally a possible for Jerry.
Bumper: June 26, 1980 – Pet Trick: Owner asks his dog, “What is the square root of 25?” The dog answers by barking four times. The owner hints, “One more,” and the dog adds a fifth bark.
“You give the dog two shots you’d think he’d get it right.”
We started the ACT 4 with the Pet Trick and at the end Dave wanted to start again. I forget why. Looking at it again, it must have been something to do with the date of the Taco Bell remote. It was from June 17, 1996. I believe Dave originally said “1994.” We did a restart of coming out of commercial and again seeing the pet trick. Dave’s line, “You give the dog two shots you’d think he’d get it right” was funny to the audience. Not sure how you took it at home.
Dave Works at Taco Bell.
We see Dave working the drive-thru. We did this at a Taco Bell in New Jersey. A stagehand I was watching this with swore it must have been from Long Island. The accents, the hair . . . but really . . . New Jersey . . . Long Island . . . is there really a difference?
- “If you’re Mexican the meal is half off.”
- “Wait a minute. I’m not exactly a computer. Slow down.”
- “I drove over my foot with the lawn mower this weekend and lost three toes”
- “Slow down ma’am. I’m very very tired. I’m just getting over the worst case of stomach flu I ever had in my life.”
- “Are you Howard Stern?”
- “Can I ask you to get me a little something to eat?”
- “The Burrito Supreme is a little pricey”
- “She’s gone already, Chief.”
It’s Paul and the CBS Orchestra performing Ian Hunter’s “Central Park and West.”
Bumper: From July 9, 1982, our summer Late Night Christmas show with Larry “Bud” Melman/CalvertDeForest reading “Twas The Night Before Christmas.” While flipping the page, he learns that the book is half in Spanish.
People are constantly asking Dave what he does when he’s not on TV. Since we have the technology, Dave decided to show you. It’s a day in the life of David Letterman at the Late Show.
The clip opens with Dave’s early A.M. arrival. He is always the first one in . . .except sometimes on Thursdays. He comes in just a bit later than usual and I sometimes beat him. When he was walking to his office on the 12th floor, I was so hoping it was from a Thursday and my door was opened. BUZZZ. Not so.
We see Barbara Gaines discussing the day’s show with Dave and Mary. Jack Hanna is the scheduled guest.
The day starts with the receptionists already answering phones.
Gaines calls for the start of the 10:15 meeting.
The rundowns are printed. The board is prepared. Staffers scurry to get to the 10:15 meeting by 10:20.
We see the writers in their meeting. Not much reality there as the conference room looked spotless.
The stage is prepared.
Segment producers Brian Teta and Mike Busckiewicz go over the Michael Keaton guest segment, hoping Dave agrees to allow the Mary Tyler Moore variety clip be shown of Keaton and Dave.
We see Dave getting serious work done as he tries to toss grapes into a glass of bubbly Perrier. This is a stunt the social media would eat up. You could build a whole show around something like this.
Dave goes over the night’s monologue. Some hosts like the monologue written out word-for-word. Dave likes beats. I think it helps it seem more casual and conversational, loose and natural.
Comedy bits are viewed and reviewed. The clip we see of Justice Scalia at the White House Correspondents Dinner. We dub in a guy to make Scalia sound drunk. Dave thought we made him sound too drunk. We redo it. What we don’t see is it’s Dave who does the new voiceover. A call was made to have a crew get up to Dave’s dressing room to record it.
We see Nancy rundown the show schedule up to this point. Changes are made 10 minutes before the curtain goes up.
The final pieces are prepared and Dave descends one flight to the stage.
We see Dave on stage for the pre-show Q&A, which has gone from two minutes to the current 10 to 15 minutes. Dave finishes the pre-show and the Opening Announce is immediate.
And it’s just that easy.
I really enjoyed that.
I had been asked for dates and show numbers for months leading up to the final weeks of the show. Many requests were in e-mail, some requests by phone, some in person, and some I would get on my own when I saw the clip on the rundown. If you were able to pilfer a script, you would see a page which reads, “A Day In The Life” and the date, “October 7, 1996”. This would eventually be updated for the show when an actual intro was prepared. The date would assist in the intro. Not till rehearsal did I learn that this was a piece prepared just in recent weeks and not the piece we did 19 years ago. I didn’t get to see the piece until it was on the air.
Well, this is it.
Dave recaps the last 22 years here at CBS. Back in 1993, the Ed Sullivan Theater was a dump, but CBS President Howard Springer saw the possibilities in the place. Ask Pat Farmer. He has stories of rolling rivers streaming down where the Control Room is now. Rats were living rent-free.
Dave praises Paul and the band for the great music that has graced this stage.
Dave mentions the great work of Kathleen Ankers who designed the stage, still the best-looking set on television. No other is even close.
Stringer left, and Les Moonves came in. Dave lauds the support, the friendship, and the incredible patience he’s shown Dave and the show over the years.
Dave praises the entire staff and crew, those you see and don’t see, who have worked tirelessly to make this show the success that it is. I was very happy to hear Dave’s special mention of the research department. Dave gives a wave to the Control Room.
Dave heaps a huge thanks to the writers who deserve more credit for what this show than he.
Dave introduces Alan Kalter.
Biff Henderson who has been with Dave since the morning show.
And the band; Felicia Collins, Sid Mcginnis, Will Lee, Anton Fig, Tom Malone, Frank Greene, and Aaron Heick. And of course, Paul Shaffer.
Dave mentions his mom. He recalls the first time he told her he would like her on the show, and she said, ”You have a show?”
Dave then thanks his wife Regina, and their son Harry. We get a shot of them in the audience. Harry is totally embarrassed by the attention, the perfect and expected uncomfortable reaction from the 11-year-old. But oh, how he enjoyed it when dad introduced his buddy, Tommy Rabotto.
And then, Foo Fighters. They cancelled a tour in South America to be here for Dave’s first show back from his heart bypass surgery, and they’ve been great friends of Dave and to the show ever since.
And there is nothing left to say but . . . “Thank you, and good night.”
And Foo Fighters took it from there. The performance of “Everlong” starts with drum and guitar instrumentals. 30 seconds or so in, David Grohl shouts, “Here we go!” That’s a cue to his band, and to Director Jerry Foley in the Control Room to get set to run the video montage of Dave, The David Letterman Show, Late Night, and the Late Show. The importance of synching up the montage of video clips and the song becomes apparent three minutes into “Everlong” when Grohl shouts, “When she said . . .” right when an amazed and dazed Farrah Fawcett utters her “ . . . .Wow! . . . .” within the 500 clips.
“Everlong” – it will forever be linked to the Late Show. You’ll hear it 30 years from now and it’ll take you right back here.
Exhausted. Emotionally and physically. We all look around, not sure how we’re supposed to react. And I still don’t.
I was in the audience for rehearsal of the Foo Fighters and the montage. I refused to watch the montage, as a peek would have resulted in a lump and a tear. I fought it and concentrated just on the Foo. I didn’t want to watch. And out in the audience for the show performance, I still wouldn’t watch the montage. And here now as I type this up days later, it’s the first time I allowed myself to watch.
To end, a woman at her door from a Door-to-Door remote early in the Late Show: “You’re not going to put this on CBS, I’m sure.” Dave turns to the camera with a grinning nod.
Closing credits with photos of the entire staff.
And that’s a wrap.
And that was our final show for May 20, 2015.
Well well well . . . . I guess he really meant it. I’ve been successfully running from it for a year now, but it was too big to miss today. The last show. It couldn’t be avoided, but I tried my best to pretend it was just another show we had to get on.
Opening Announce: “From a magical place not found on any map, it’s the Late Show with David Letterman. Tonight: A special Top Ten list, and Foo Fighters. Plus: Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra. I’m Alan Kalter. And now, a boy from a small town in Indiana . . . . . . . . David Letterman!”
We used to start every opening announce with, “From New York . . . .” and end it with “And now, a man who . . . .” These were known as “From New Yorks” and “Man Who’s” After September 11th, we went and stayed with “From New York, the greatest city in the world ….” For the “Man who . . . .” each writer would give me a list of ten or so which I would then edit down to 15 for Dave to choose from. He would picket 3 to 5 which I would use for the opening announce. When all the checked ones were used, I would then put another list of 15 together and send them in to Dave. Same thing . . . 3 to 5 would come back with a checkmark. I then started to add some of my own to the list and was always proud when mine had a check next to it. Then about two years ago Dave was done deciding on the opening announce “Man who.” I decided I would be the one who made the choice. Over time, I kept forgetting to ask the writers for more “Man who’s” and started to make up my own. It’s what I would do on my drive in to work. I would listen to NPR on the radio and listen for a word that I liked. Often from that, I would build a “Man who” around that.” I’ve been doing the “Man who” for two years now, if not longer. And then 6 months ago (?), Dave changed up the “From New York, the greatest city in the world.” He would write up a new “From New York.” This lasted about two weeks. That duty was then passed on to Steve Young. So it’s been Steve Young with the opening, which was no longer “From New York,” and me with the “Man who.” And I was proud of my “And now, a boy from a small town in Indiana.” I think it hit the right note; a little bit small town boy who made good, a little bit Superman. And Steve’s “a magical place” fit quite nicely.
Many staffers requested a copy of the script for tonight’s final show. I decided to make so many of them to make them near worthless. I flooded the market to drive the price down for anyone who thought of selling it on the electronic-bay website.
I pitched this idea when I had some free time a few months ago. It was an idea on how to close the show. I didn’t really expect it to go anywhere but I thought it would be a good exercise, plus I wanted it to be known that I, too, was thinking of such things months in advance. We would have the big emotional finish . . . . go to black . . and then the Ed Sullivan Theater/Late Show marquee would appear in black and white. The doors would swing open to the tune of Earl Scruggs and Lester Flatt’s Beverly Hillbillies theme. Dave would come out and wave, followed by the rest of the staff from over the years. The final credits roll while we all wave.
I think we went with a better finish.
I’m in between jobs right now, which I guess you could say is wishful thinking.
Ever notice how Dave always considers himself dumb, especially around very smart people? I think it’s because he is all too aware of how much he doesn’t know. He knows more than most, but it’s everything he knows he doesn’t know is what humbles him.
So how did I get here? I was a New York City police officer. After injuring my knee on the job, they no longer had use for me. My wife Denise was in radio and she suggested I start writing jokes and Ideas for Rush Limbaugh and Jay Diamond and whoever else at the station who was looking for time-filler. I wrote a This Date In History with at least 5 jokes for each day of the year based on historical events. This was all before the internets so I had to buy a book of “This Date in History” information. That kept me busy for awhile and placed an ad in the radio trades. I sold a few. Made about $120. Not sure if it covered the price of the ad. Meanwhile, my father-in-law worked security at a hospital and he asked if I could help out in the summer to fill in. No problem. But the little help here and there turned into a full -time position. I quickly knew this wasn’t for me. 15 minutes into my shift and I was checking my watch . . . . “7 hours and 45 minutes to go.” Denise then had heard that Jay Leno accepted jokes from freelancers. I did that for awhile. Six months of that and then . . .BINGO! . . . .he used two in one night. That was good for $150. It was the summer of the baseball players strike. I think one of the jokes was, “It doesn’t look good for baseball. The players are now demanding summers off.” Guitar riff from Eubanks. And then Denise heard from a friend that the Letterman show had an internship program. Would I be interested? I’m always game for something, plus I loved Letterman. But I was also 36 years old. I didn’t think my chances were good, but I think my ignorance was to my benefit. I got the call to come in for an interview. I was on vacation at the Jersey shore and took the train in. I went to an office on the 12th floor and waited. And waited. And then the woman told me there was no one available to talk to me that day. OK. I was getting the idea that this wasn’t going to work out. I went to the bathroom before heading back to the Jersey shore. I looked in the mirror and saw a ketchup stain on my chin from the French fries I had earlier at TGIF’s. This really wasn’t going well. I went back to the Jersey shore and I got a call for a second visit. I arrived, and only the edit room would hear me. No one wanted to order a 36-year-old around, and certainly not a 36-year-old former New York City policeman. The group in the edit room were just a bit older than the rest of the staff so it wouldn’t be as bad. I can recall clearly their telling me of their concerns. I assured them the best I could that I was fine with anything and everything. I knew where I stood. A final warning of, “You know, you’ll have to make us coffee each morning.” I said, “Sure . . . . instant?” After a beat, it was met with a laugh. And that was that. I was in. Later, I learned they took me as a favor to my wife’s friend on the staff. I wanted to make sure I made her look good. But it was so easy for them to say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” I barely made it in.
Now it’s December and my internship is over. It was a Thursday, and Friday was my last day. The edit department got a phone call. The girl intern who was lined up to take my place had broken her leg skiing. Looking for the easiest way to deal with it, things were shuffled around and I was asked if I would stay on another semester. I answered, “You mean work another four months for free?” We laughed, and they said, “Yeah, I guess that’s what we’re asking.” I got the “go ahead” at home and I was in for another four months. Yeah, it was that close of my leaving. One day . . . a broken leg skiing.
My lists . . . . It was 1995. A writer was preparing a bit for the show. She asked me to find the times Dave said “Ass” on the show. Where was I to start? I was able to remember a few, but that was when I started keeping logs of the show, not so much of guests and comedy bits, but odd things no one else would record.
And last but not least, the Wahoo Gazette. How did that get its start? Back in ’95, being the new kid I was asked to run the staff football pool. It had been run by Walter the years before, and he wanted to get rid of it quick. He passed it on to me. 15 games a week, $5 to play. Whoever got the most right, won the pool. After a few weeks of that, I decided to make it more interesting. On the front of the sheet was the list of games. On the back of the sheet I would recap the results from the week past. I would include a dig and a tease whenever possible. This made the football pool popular to those not even interested in football. I had up to 70 bettors a week. And each week I would come up dollars short since someone was always forgetting to pay, I’ll get you later, and “Did I pay you? Yeah, I think I did.” I learned it was part of the cost of running a business. And when it was time for Walter and Jay to start this thing on the computer internet, they asked me to write recap of the Late Shows for the website. It started as a twice-a-week thing, a half-page each, to the monster it became.
And that’s my story.
Oh, and to ensure employment, I learned how to un-jam the copier. But first, I had to learn how to jam it (wink wink)
Got questions? I’m not going away. Ask me anything and I’ll have an answer for you as soon as I e-mail Donz.
The Wahoo Gazette wouldn’t be possible without you, the readers. And neither would it be necessary. Though the Wahoo Gazette may be hard to find on the Late Show website these days, to find out all you need check out the incredible website of the great David Yoder at http://www.ddy.com/dl3.html Once you discover that, the Late Show will never be lost for you. If you have hours to kill . . . . hours and hours and hours, go there and start wasting ‘em.
Much thanks goes out to The Donz, a man with all the answers even to questions not asked. Some here at the Late Show may hate to admit it, but we’ll refer to him for information we should have. I once asked him how many times we’ve had Mujibur and Sirajul on the show. I pretended I had a number and wanted to see if it matched up to his. His response of “84” came within minutes. I exclaimed, “Yeah, that’s what I got.” The Donz . . . sometimes ornery, sometimes caustic, but it comes with his genius. He may be short with people, but unfortunately rarely with me when it comes to conversation. I’d like to say he’ll be missed but I’m afraid he’s not going away. The Donz will always be a part of the Late Show, and for that, thank you . . . . I think.
Biff Henderson once told me a story. He was with a friend and his friend asked, “Biff, wouldn’t it be great to win the lottery?” And Biff answered, “Sometimes, I think I did.”
ARE THEY STILL READING THE WAHOO GAZETTE?
YOU. Are YOU still reading the Wahoo Gazette?
This concludes another installment of ARE THEY STILL READING THE WAHOO GAZETTE
CAMEO MENTIONOF AN AFLNEWSGROUP ORIGINAL
Dayton grad and the man who came up with the idea for the Cameo Mention of a Wahoo Reader, it’s Who the hecka is BiIl Lehecka
The concludes another installment of CAMEO MENTION OF AN AFL NEWSGROUP ORIGINAL.
CAMEO MENTION OF A WAHOO READER
Denise, Dominique, and Danielle.
This concludes the final installment of CAMEO MENTION OF A WAHOO READER
It’s starting to seem real.
And that’s the Wahoo Gazette; born in November 1996, older than some of our interns. Baseball pitcher Jim Bouton once said, “You spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time.” That’s how I feel about the Wahoo. Here I thought I owned it, but it was the other way around.
And so it ends.