David Letterman signed off as America's most revered late-night television host last night and officially entered the world of retirement. I hope that he enjoys his retirement as much as I have mine - and with Dave's money, that should be no problem!
I haven't had television service in months, so I was not part of the "at home" audience that saw David Letterman off into retirement, and, in fact, even when I had television connectivity, I seldom stayed up late enough to enjoy his program.
But I did enjoy it back on Tuesday, January 13, 2009, when I was a member of the audience at a live broadcast of his show. I was in New York with my friend, Carla Turnbough Brown, helping to sponsor group of college students from the Kansas City area who were touring the Big Apple. That day was perhaps the busiest of our short, but fun-filled, adventure in the city.
We began the morning in bitter cold weather at 30 Rockefeller Center (30 Rock) where we watched some of the Today Show being presented live. There we saw the actor, Daniel Craig, as well as some of the regular members of the show. One highlight was watching Meredith Vieria kick her heel above her head to show her shoe to one of ladies on the street who had asked about her footwear. Later that morning we were on a ferry boat to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. We also walked into Grand Central Station that day, road the subway, and went to an evening performance of Jersey Boys on Broadway.
But it was what happened in the afternoon that I remember best. Carla and I had tickets to the Letterman Show which she had acquired by applying for them online and then answering a trivia question correctly. Dave's guests that afternoon (taped early for broadcast that night) were Salma Hayak and J.J. Walker. Both were in rare form. I was amazed at how tiny Hayak was, and surprised at Walker's expanding midsection. The show was in the historic Ed Sullivan Theatre, the same place where the Beatles had performed on their first American tour.
One of the things I remember best about Letterman was his consideration for the audience. We had been shunted to a remote corner of the theatre by ushers who didn't want old people being seen front-and-center, but when Dave came out on stage, he headed straight to our section first. He was funny, and personable, and formed a strong connection with the people who had dutifully stood in line to see the show.
And he had a strong connection with the people watching from home, too.
Dave, enjoy your retirement. You will definitely be missed, but you've earned the right to leave it all behind and enjoy some life on your own terms. Thanks for all the laughter.