This week, late-night talk show host David Letterman signed off on his 33-year broadcasting run.
I admit, I cried.
The Indiana native closed his Emmy and Peabody Award-winning “Late Night with David Letterman” program with some of his favorite TV moments in the last three decades. He thanked his wife, Regina, and son, Harry, reminding us that in life nothing else matters than family.
That’s the Midwesterner in Dave.
He also invited 10 of his favorite people to read the last Top Ten List. The famous segment was created with head writer Steve O’Donnell in 1985, featuring “The Top Ten Things That Almost Rhyme With Peas.” The No. 1? Meats.
The final list, probably one of my all-time favorites, was “Top Ten Things I’ve Always Wanted to Say to Dave,” starting off with “30 Rock” actor Alec Baldwin. Celebrities Barbara Walters, Steve Martin, Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Carrey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Peyton Manning, Chris Rock and Tina Fey followed, ending with Letterman’s first “Latenight” guest, Bill Murray.
Dave and I seemed equally as excited to see Manning on the roster.
The Denver Broncos and former Indianapolis Colts quarterback would certainly be on my list of 10 people I’d want sending me off after a career like Dave’s. As would Tina Fey. She delivered the best of the list with No. 2, “Thanks for finally proving men can be funny.” I’m not alone as a female in comedy when I say I’ve actually had a guy tell me to my face that he “just didn’t think women are funny.” It’s an old and tired opinion, and Tina Fey is definitely funny.
It’s obvious Dave thinks so, too.
I’ve been watching David Letterman’s show since my early teen years. I’m regretful I never saw him perform in person. I always loved that music and comedy, two of my favorite mediums, could come together to entertain the masses. I have great memories of my mom always laughing at his jokes after the nightly news. She’s one of his biggest fans.
I, too, need comedy relief after some of the craziness that makes the news.
When my comic and musician friends and I produced “The April Clark Show” in Carbondale a few years ago, the live stage format was based on the inspiration Dave has provided me over the years. The reporter in me loves sitting down with people and interviewing them. Add comedy and a house band to the equation, and it’s my bliss. From the gratitude exhibited in his farewell show, Dave seems to knows how fortunate he’s been in his successful broadcasting career.
Countless comics and musicians have Dave to thank for their success.
If I could meet David Letterman in person, I would thank him. A fellow Hoosier, Dave has one of those stories that creative kids in the Midwest with big dreams looked to for inspiration. He offers scholarships to C students at Ball State University, a college I almost chose for journalism. I had my share of Cs in school, and I’m lucky that sometimes being average didn’t discouraged me from trying harder and pursuing my dreams.
I’m still working on some of them.
I’d also thank Dave for never forgetting where he’s from, an aspect of my own life I think helps keep me grounded. Many people know how proud I am to be from Indiana, even though they might not understand. We don’t have snow-capped mountains or 300 days of sunshine. That’s not to say I don’t wish we did.
Especially during the long winter months.
In Indy we do have rivers and nice people like Dave’s mom, and mine. Dave and I both had our moms take part in our shows — my mom played Mrs. Santa Claus in my holiday special. Probably because they’re our inspirations for being funny. We also have basketball and racing, two Hoosier staples that Dave has always supported and mentioned on his show. Dave is an Indy Car owner with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. He and I share a love of the Indianapolis 500, also known as the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, which will have its 100th running next year.
It really is a sight to see.
Dave will definitely be back home again in Indiana this weekend for the race, and I’m sure he’s going to receive a warm homecoming welcome. He’s made Indiana proud for many years. Now that he’s in retirement, I hope Dave can enjoy the fruits of his labor and continue his legacy of inspiring people.
And making them laugh.
April E. Clark is rooting for Graham Rahal or Pippa Mann to win the Indy 500 Sunday. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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