|The "Late Show" marquee outside of the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York. | Photo: Chris White|
David Letterman ended his 33 year-long late night career with a final installment of The "Late Show" on Wednesday night.
Letterman's final show was a celebrity filled, nostalgic tribute that lasted well over its hour-long time slot - which I loved. The show began with four former presidents and President Obama saying "Our long, national nightmare is over" since Letterman is retiring - a fitting start. The show also included the final "Top Ten List," where A-list celebs from Jim Carrey, to Barbara Walters, to Tina Fey dished out the list of things they always wanted to say to Letterman. Near the show's end, a behind the scenes video featuring a day in the life for Letterman was shown and the Foo Fighters performed. Perhaps the best part of the entire show was when Letterman took time to thank each and every person that worked on the show, his wife and son and his loyal fans. It was a touching and humbling moment that I'll never forget watching.
In 2010, I was fortunate enough to go on a trip to New York after I won an essay contest in high school. I stayed in a hotel that was steps from the Ed Sullivan Theater where The "Late Show" was taped. Audience members have to be at least 18 years old to attend a taping and I was still 17 at the time. Had it been just two weeks later, I would have been able to go. Even though I couldn't attend the show, I was able to snag a photo of the world famous marquee (pictured above) which was awesome to see in itself. As I walked on, I remember seeing flashing cameras signifying that a celebrity guest was entering the theater. I never imagined that, five years later, Letterman would be retiring and I would never get the chance to see his show in person.
Other than Letterman, I've become a huge fan of Jimmy Fallon. Fallon first hosted "Late Night" - Letterman's first late night hosting gig - and is now the host of "The Tonight Show." Fallon, like his fellow late night counterparts, gave his tribute to Letterman. However, I must say that I was very disappointed with the decision to air a new episode of "The Tonight Show" - which airs at the same time as "The Late Show." Meanwhile, Jimmy Kimmel aired a rerun of his show on ABC and Conan O'Brien told at-home viewers the exact moment to turn the channel and watch Letterman during his new episode.
Whether it was Fallon's or NBC's decision - or both - I thought it was disrespectful to air a new episode on Letterman's final night on television. I saw quite a bit of talk on social media that May 20 was the end of the ratings cycle for television. It would be a crying shame if NBC was so desperate for ratings that it decided to air a new episode of "The Tonight Show" in hopes of competing with The "Late Show" - which ended up blasting away its competition based on preliminary numbers from Wednesday night. Would it have been that detrimental for Fallon's show to take one night off to honor Letterman? It surely doesn't seem to be an issue when "The Tonight Show" goes on two-week hiatuses from time to time.
Say what you want about Letterman, but you cannot deny how much of an impact he's made. If it wasn't for Letterman's unconventional methods of hosting a late night program, the world may have never seen Fallon or others. I wasn't fortunate enough to watch Letterman for his entire late night run but I've seen him enough to understand how big of a mark he's left on television history. There will never be another one like him.