Mike’s letter to David Letterman

Mike Matei / May 8th, 2015

– POST BY MIKE MATEI –

I’ve always been a huge fan of David Letterman. He’s retiring shortly, so I thought this would be appropriate.

In the late 80’s & early 90’s I’d sometimes be allowed to stay up late enough to watch his predecessor Johnny Carson.

Johnny was a legend without a doubt and perhaps my favorite late-night host of all time. But in my teen years, it was David Letterman who REALLY captured my interest, with his sarcastic wise-ass attitude.

Though he mellowed in his later years (after a heart attack) in his heyday, he was the badass of late night. And his NBC program “Late Night with David Letterman” paved the way for people like Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel and Jon Stewart. Dave’s skits (at the time) were revolutionary..

He wasn’t afraid to say anything to anyone, which was often off-putting to many. (Mostly, the play it safe Leno crowd)

Letterman was a true innovator of the late night scene. He took what Johnny already established, and made it darker, crazier and on occasion a hell of a lot more funny.

He popularized the idea of the Top Ten list, which is a comedy concept taken for granted these days. The world owes that to Dave. Whenever you see a Top 10, Top 5, Top 20.. or even a Top 40… credit goes to David Letterman.

Back in the 90’s, Dave did a segment called the CBS mailbag, where he read viewer mail. At that age, seeing my name read on national television was a huge deal to me. Even though he mispronounced my name. (For the record it’s Muy-Tay). Anyway, I hope you can appreciate this special moment from my teenage years.

I also want to say, I’m really sad Dave is retiring. For a kid who grew up through the 80s/90s like me, he was always there every night. And now, to suddenly not have him every night feels like losing a friend.

When Dave was young, Johnny made him laugh. And when I was young, Dave made me laugh. My favorite Letterman skit was something really obscure. There was one night when he randomly left the desk and went outsides into the streets on Manhattan. (Which was clearly filmed in the dead of night when nobody was on the streets) He finds a shopping cart on the sidewalk and starts running with it at top speed, huffing and puffing. That’s all there is to it really. Except his performance. The way in which he did it, was absolutely hilarious. And could ONLY be done by Dave. There is absolutely no way to explain why it was funny. It was one of those things you just had to see. I really wish I could see that again. (that was probably around the 93-96 era when I watched every single night, by setting my VCR on a timer and watching when I got home from school the next day!)

Lastly, I do have to say, if I had to pick a favorite Letterman interview moment, it would have to be from his infamous Paris Hilton interview. She had been sent to jail for a short time, and Dave kept brining up the subject even though she clearly didn’t want to talk about it. He asked her what the food was like in jail and what she ate. She reluctantly answered “an orange”. To which Dave replied “Oh that’s good, you don’t want to get Scurvy”.

Classic Dave.

Also, I am also fortunate enough to say, my short segment with Dave actually featured the classic Late Show character Larry “Bud” Melman who also appeared on another one of my favorite shows Pee Wee’s Playhouse. Anyway, enjoy the clip!

– Mike

Comments

  • Dan021

    May 9, 2015 at 12:17 am

    Ha! Good job Mike, those fake city background were always something I was wondering about when watching those late show. The segment was pretty funny and it’s cool you sent a letter about it!

    • BrandeX

      May 9, 2015 at 8:04 am

      “to watch his predecessor Johnny Carson”
      ….
      ….
      Carson was followed by Jay Leno…

      • Hallwings

        May 9, 2015 at 6:03 pm

        I think what Mike meant was that Carson preceded Letterman on NBC back in the day. Also, Dave was supposedly going to be Johnny’s successor to “The Tonight Show” when he retired, but that job went to Leno, and as a result, Letterman moved to CBS.

  • Rotted Extravaganza

    May 9, 2015 at 12:42 am

    nice.

  • May 9, 2015 at 1:27 am

    Hahaha, that is AWESOME! Great that you got it on tape, because who knows how else you’d ever find that episode now.

    I always sent in letters to Nintendo Power but they never published any of them. Bastids.

  • May 9, 2015 at 1:32 am

    David was my favorite late night guy too 🙂 Great that they made a whole sketch around your letter, that’s also neat.

  • May 9, 2015 at 2:52 am

    Thats awesome. I had a letter read also years ago, but wasnt lucky enough to get it recorded. Its the end of an era, the best are leaving, but so far I have liked what I have seen with Kimmel and Colbert will be great!

  • May 9, 2015 at 3:08 am

    Worldwide Pants, baby! I remember watching Letterman a lot in the mid ’90’s as pre-teen/teenager. I couldn’t stand Jay Leno so having Dave there got me into late night talk shows. I still remember watching Cheers reruns before Dave and then Coach after Dave if I stayed up that late. Some of my greatest memories of that time period in my life. Thanks for the post, Mike. It does indeed suck he is retiring, but I guess that’s the cycle of life!

  • Allen Lucas

    May 9, 2015 at 9:48 am

    My favorite parts of the show was when my favorite actor Jim Carrey would show up to promote his movies and usually does something very funny! Look up on YouTube to see the classic 1999 moment where he celebrates New Years in his own special way!

  • Michael Schmidt

    May 9, 2015 at 11:39 am

    Nice, it was a Christmastime episode, too! I watched Letterman on Friday nights, mostly, back in the early nineties, but would sometimes catch the other weeknight episodes, too. I especially loved watching during Christmas break, when the studio was decorated like that.

  • JayRam

    May 9, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    That’s really cool.

    I remember watching late night talk shows every night after I got off work. I never watched much of Letterman; I was a Leno (mind you, this was 10 years ago, before I realized he was a douchebag) and Conan type of guy.

  • geddon

    May 9, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    I liked your letter. I think you should have added your thoughts at the end of the video.

  • The Kaleidoscopic God

    May 9, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    Seeing a little skit made out of it must’ve been fan-fuckin’-tastic!

  • Hank Foreman

    May 9, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    It’s sad to see the end of era once Letterman retires, yet we should be glad knowing that a new generation of late night talk shows will continue with the likes of Kimmell, Colbert, Noah, O’Brien, & Fallon. May they raise the bar that Allen, Paar, Carson, Leno, & Letterman raised!

  • May 9, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    I never watched Letterman I was always watching Jay an Conan

  • Reimeioh

    May 9, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    I too watched the Late Show back in that decade.Has anyone ever gone to see the show taped? I remember it was January ’98, my dad and I in NYC for the show.

  • creecreehoneybee

    May 9, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    My favorite is when Andy Kaufman was on there. 🙂

  • handsome pete

    May 10, 2015 at 12:50 am

    Oh my God, I actually saw that. Conan was the guy that I couldn’t miss as a kid (if I could manage to stay awake that late), but sometimes I’d see Letterman too, he had a crazy sense of humor that kinda reminded me of MAD Magazine.

  • Wayne

    May 10, 2015 at 1:14 am

    But, did you ever get a letter you wrote or high score you achieved to appear in an issue of Nintendo Power?

    • Deathbringer

      May 10, 2015 at 7:48 am

      That was a true childhood legendary achievement. I never got Nintendo Power to post anything of mine.

  • May 10, 2015 at 3:18 am

    That’s pretty cool.

  • Jason Voorhees

    May 10, 2015 at 6:22 am

    lol

  • Pablo1989

    May 10, 2015 at 7:18 am

    I never seen this on TV because im living outside US, but yea..when got internet ive seen some fragments from David Letterman show.

    Anyway nice touch 🙂 been noticed in kind that shows,

    ive still rymenber i write e-mail to Komandos magazine(Polish Military magazine similar to US Soldier of Fortune)in year 2005 and ive ask did on this mag gonna publish more articles about Paintball like in late 90s issues, and some writer respond on next issue (yes yes, we had plans to back paintball section because a lot our fans asking about paitball Strategy and Tactics.)

  • May 10, 2015 at 9:47 am

    Strong! Yeah, Dave will be missed. He was quite wild back in the days!

  • Rag

    May 10, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    This is really neat. Glad to see this here and glad that Mike is a Letterman fan. I’m going to miss Letterman as well, but it’s probably a good time for him to retire, as sad as it is to see him go.

  • M. Ryan

    May 10, 2015 at 11:21 pm

    But Letterman couldn’t keep his pants on…

  • May 11, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    That is amazing Mike! So cool that you still have the clip. I didn’t watch Dave religiously but in the summer when I had no school It was often my go to show. I love his sense of humor and feel that it became a part of me in my early teens.

    I remember the bit that hooked me was a hot summer day when he passed out hamsicles (frozen canned ham on a stick) to the crowed and ate one. I couldn’t exactly grasp what I was watching. It was a strange kind of humor that I had never seen before but quickly became a fan of.

  • fanboyfilms

    May 11, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    I also started out watching Carson when my parents let me stay up late enough and transitioned into Letterman. Sometime later in the ’90s I kind of stopped watching him and started watching Conan. I think Dave got more mellow and Conan got more edgy as he went which I liked. Still it’s sad to see Dave go. I feel like I’ve come full circle, I practically saw him start out and I’ve followed him to the end. Makes me feel really old.

    For some reason I always remember the period when he had a toaster at his desk and he would randomly make some toast and then throw slices into the audience. I’m sure Paul and the band would give him some “bread toasting music” just like he has “beverage sipping music.”

  • May 12, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    While I do agree that his style at the time was revolutionary for that genre, I’d be lying if I said that I was sad to see him go. But it’s not really just him, I think the whole late night talk show format needs to die before its get even more embarrassing. I can’t count the number of times in recent memory that I’d sit down to catch part of a late night show and just say to myself, “this just isn’t funny”. I feel like maybe it could be funny, but it’s just not happening. Which isn’t really the fault of the genre itself being stale. At that point its about the writing, which if that’s the case then the writing sucks now. In fact I feel like these shows are just being preserved on air, not because they are actually funny or as entertaining as they used to be or can be. No, it seems it’s just because people are used to having them exist, not because they are actually watching it or enjoying it anymore. For example the outcry for conan to come back to late night tv was huge, but the viewing numbers didn’t even come close to equaling the numbers of people bitching about how he was gone. I think it’s possible that this format is just too cliche to be fresh anymore. And unfortunately I have to say that both letterman and leno are probably the biggest reasons that the format is stale and dying. I just can’t remember the last time I actually laughed at one of their jokes. Conan may not have had the numbers they did, but i actually laugh sometimes when he makes a joke. I can’t honetly say the same for either leno or lettermen even though i used to enjoy them quite often.

  • greedo

    May 13, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    Dave Letterman in his prime was great. No one could touch him. He was pretty much the king of late night, after Carson left. But when he moved to CBS, he just wasn’t the same. Even so, he definitely left his mark on the world of comedy, and he’ll be missed!

    BTW, it’s pretty cool that Dave read your letter out on air!

    • greedo

      May 13, 2015 at 11:38 pm

      I just realized that what I said about Letterman made no sense. 🙂 However, let me say this: If Johnny was the king of late night, Letterman was the crown prince. Too bad that NBC cut Dave’s legs out from under him.

  • PancreaticDefect

    May 14, 2015 at 12:03 am

    Holy shit. I remember that episode. What a weird coincidence. Also, I live in Kalamazoo, less than an hour from Grand Rapids Michigan, the home of the original fictional home office for the top ten lists.

  • May 14, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    I remember that we had this kids show close to a disney club in the usa,before they officially make one in greece the 90s.And had that letter section in one particular time in the show to read a couple of the kids letters,before going on.Hyped i was waited to see if they will read mine for once every time i watched the show,but as i recall they never had the time to read all of those,but i think some friends i knew they manage to have theirs readed.I can only imagine your enthusiasm when that hapened right mike?

  • Brad Maxwell

    May 15, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    Did he pronounce Mike’s surname right? Is it Ma-tai or Ma-tay? Or something else entirely?

    • greedo

      May 15, 2015 at 7:10 pm

      Silly comments system gobbled up my reply to you! It’s pronounced Muh-Tay. Dave screwed up. I hate it when people mispronounce names!

      • greedo

        May 15, 2015 at 7:11 pm

        That last was addressed to @BradMaxwell.

  • Jason Voorhees

    May 16, 2015 at 10:45 am

  • May 19, 2015 at 12:48 am

    I actually remember that show when it aired! Cool! I got sort of the same thrill when one of my letters was posted in Die Hard Game Fan. I loved that magazine back in the day.

  • Menander Rolfe

    May 26, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    Sorry Mike, Dave–like Conan–just isn’t/wasn’t funny. Not at all. Not by a long stretch. Not by stretching laffy-taffy to its max. Not by torturing Stretch Armstrong.

  • nammm3

    August 26, 2015 at 10:49 pm

    That is amazing Mike to get your letter read on-air by Dave!

  • christburner

    September 25, 2015 at 4:27 am

    Right on Mike! Thats awesome

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