Trust the Gene Genie

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Letterman is King. Long live the king.


I'm still seething over a post I lost yesterday bceause my crappy computer froze up on me. I don't know that I'll try to rewrite, maybe when I'm done here, I'll give you all the gist. But, I'll tell ya, nothing's more frustrating.

Anyway. Letterman. He's slowly becoming my generation's Carson. And he's not as vital to our culture as he once was. For starters, there are no longer three main networks. Then you have Jon Stewart. Genius. And of course Conan. Genius genius. Somewhere on this list there should be Craig Kilbourne. But Kilby lost something when he moved to CBS. And he never got it back. Which is kinda sad.

But I was talking about Letterman. I would have been a Conan guy had I had a semi-normal childhood. Conan is my generation's late night host. He came on when I was in high school and got huge when I was in college. That is his demographic, those are his people. And I love Conan, it just took me a while to come around.

Because I watched Letterman. Almost religiously when I was in junior high. And for some reason I was the only one of my friends who did. When I was a young'un, my older brother would come home from college or come home from his night job and turn on "Late Night With David Letterman." I would either sneak out of my room with my little brother and watch it from behind a corner (putting myself in excutiating pain as I tried to stiffle huge belly laughs) or, if I was feeling brave, plop down on the couch beside him.

The NBC shows were hilarious. Letterman was silly and still had this ascerbic sarcastic bent that made the comedy seem anything but light-hearted. I had no idea who Malomar Khadifi was as a 10-year-old kid, but man if he showed up in a Top Ten list, it was dang funny. And after watching for a couple years, you figured out who these people were. I made fun of New Jersey. I've never been to New Jersey in my entire life and as a junior higher I made fun of New Jersey. Because Letterman made fun of New Jersey. Sometimes my friends would just stare at me. I'd make a crack about John Ghotti in my social studies class and maybe, MAYBE my teacher got the joke. Because of "Late Night" I got Chris Elliot, I fell in love with Penn and Teller and adopted my healthy, cynical attitude about life I carry with me to this day.

It was Letterman. I keep the first book of Top Ten lists at my desk today. The one that came out in 1989. With the straight-faced Foreward relating the 1980 Olympic US hockey team's Miracle on Ice. As though the book in your hands were the book about the Miracle on Ice. That's funny. Anyway, we used to sit around during my eighth-grade GT class and read the lists out loud, hardly being able to talk because we were laughing so hard, tears running down our cheeks. I had no idea who Robert Bork was or what his beard looked like, but I knew "Chin Slinky" was hilarious.

I bring it all up because a colleague of mine was called in for jury duty this week. It happens a lot here. Becky was called in over the summer and we've only lived here a year and a half. Of course I hear jury duty and the first thing that pops into my head is Letterman's Top Ten list on how to get out of jury duty (3. Respond to every question, "Let me talk to the little man who lives in my pants.").

I couldn't find the list because it acutally showed up in Letterman's second collection of Top Tens, not the first. Anyway, looking online for the list, I learned that the classic NBC Late Nights rerun on Trio. My first reponse was instant nostalgia. How would it be to have the old shows on my TV nightly? It'd be like I'd died and gone to late night TV heaven.

Of course my second emotion was dread. You can't go back. And having the old shows that accessible seems so tasteless. No longer are they precious childhood memories, enshrined in the pink haze of youthful bliss, but just another creaky slot filler for some two-bit cable channel. By becoming so accessible they cease to be special.

That doesn't mean I wouldn't buy a DVD collection. So I say long live the Monkey Cam. Long live Larry "Bud" Melman. Long live stupid human tricks and Rice Crispy suits. Long live the door-to-door visits to Long Island and the impromtu gift baskets to GE's office building that don't get past building security. Long live Letterman working the drive-through window at McDonalds. Long live Letterman.

3 comments:

Urpy said...

A fun read--and very touching. "Healthy, cynical attitude", huh? Interesting.

TheRobRogers said...

It's almost like you're suggesting the attitude is unhealthy.

Urpy said...

Almost.

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