It’s official: After 30 years on the air on two different networks, David Letterman will be leaving the late night rat-race in 2015. Personally, I can’t say that I’ll miss the guy, given that he hasn’t been even remotely funny for decades now. Incidentally, that whole rather unfortunate sex scandal/blackmail incident from a couple years back didn’t do much to improve my opinion of the man, whether he “changed the format” of late night talk or not. And then there were those crude sex jokes about Sarah Palin’s teenage daughter. Real classy, Dave.
Putting the man’s perversions and leftist politics aside–which is hard to do, considering the political machine Letterman has become over the years–it feels like something else is going on here. Perhaps it’s just my cynicism talking, but I have a suspicion that Dave actually waited for Jay Leno to retire and leave first, just so he could claim to have outlasted the guy. I have no evidence of that, obviously–I’m just saying that it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to read such a confession in a tell-all book years from now. There’s certainly no love lost between those two constant rivals.
The truth is that both Dave and Jay are relics of another generation. The immediacy and connectedness of our Twitter-obsessed, viral video-sharing culture is simply something that neither host has been well-accustomed to. Late night is a young man’s game, and that’s why Fallon, Kimmel, and Meyers have been getting such a positive reception. At 66, Letterman is three years OLDER than Jay Leno, and to sign another long-term contract with CBS would have just looked ridiculous and sad at this point (especially considering that he probably should have quit after the aforementioned sex scandals with his female employees).
The Late Show With David Letterman has been getting absolutely trounced by NBC’s The Tonight Show since well before Leno left. The pre-Fallon ratings from January through March of this year alone averaged about twice as many eyeballs on NBC than were on Dave’s home at CBS. The average Letterman viewer is around 59 years old.
Since I was never a Dave fan, your mileage may vary. If you like(d) the guy, share your reasoning in the comments section. In the meantime, check out the piece I wrote recently about why, in my opinion, it’s actually Craig Ferguson who’s better than any of the more well-known late night hosts. Then we can all debate who will take Dave’s place (Craig actually has first right of refusal on taking over The Late Show, per his contract). The Interweb seems to like Chelsea Handler for the job at the moment. Let’s hope it’s not Lena Dunham.
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