David Letterman said his final goodbye to ‘The Late Show’ after more than 20 years, in a memorable final episode. The television legend has now retired and the last show is one for the history books. Check out a roundup of reviews and see video highlights of the touching sendoff.
David Letterman has been host of ‘The Late Show’ since 1993 and for more than a few that’s a literal lifetime. For others, the long-time host has been a fixture throughout adulthood or at least most of it. Either way it’s difficult to imagine late-night television without Letterman. Polarizing and controversial at times, and innovative and daring at others, his longtime reign at the helm of the show was nothing if not influential and indeed endemic to pop culture.
How do you know when you’re a television legend? How about when three of the four living Presidents bid you a farewell in a touching video, spoofing the phrase, “Our long national nightmare is over” first uttered by President Ford in the 1970s. Yes, David Letterman got a sendoff from former Presidents Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush as well as the sitting President Barack Obama.
He got quite the sendoff on social media as well as #ThanksDave has trended for days if not weeks. And so, it’s not a surprise that the show ran long in its final episode, not least to accommodate all of the extended applause and standing ovations at the iconic Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City.
David Letterman delivered his opening monologue as well as his final goodbye. In the middle, there was a last Top 10 List — “Top 10 Things I’ve Always Wanted to Say to Dave” — read by no less than 10 celebrities, including including Barbara Walters, Steve Martin, Jerry Seinfeld, Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Julia Louis Dreyfus, Jim Carrey and Chris Rock. And there was, the final musical performance by Foo Fighters playing their mega hit ‘Everlong.’
And through it all, there was Letterman being Letterman, and that was just the bittersweet reminder of the iconic host and show that we will now only see in reruns.
Now that the episode is one for YouTube and DVD perpetuity what do the television critics have to say? Here’s a roundup.
“….Mr. Letterman ended his 33-year career in late-night on Wednesday as he had started it — with the irreverence, self-mockery and mischief that made him such an iconoclastic talk-show host. His farewell was much better than the usual mawkish television send-off: He mixed favorite segments like his Top 10 list with clips of classic skits and a few restrained fillips of sincerity and humility. ….”– New York Times
“….Absent celebrity prostration and sentimental overkill (we’d had plenty of that during the past weeks), Letterman stuck with a format that hit the familiar touchstones: a monologue, a Top 10 List and lots of banter. The mushy stuff was saved for the end, which we’ll come to. Mostly, however, it was the kind of show he’s done ever since the Monkey Cam and Stupid Pet Tricks of yesteryear were retired, which was a long time ago. Wednesday night, so long, farewell, was friendly with a dash of smirk, and it was very, very classy….” — Deadline Hollywood
“….But Dave was never big on hugs and that didn’t change, even in the finale. He was big on making a tough job look easy, and that didn’t change either. He moved smoothly through his final show, cracking wise and taking care of business, as if it were any other…..” — L.A. Times
“…. It was a “Late Show” that left fans laughing through their tears — and begging for more. David Letterman signed off as the king of late night for the last time Wednesday with heartfelt thanks to everyone who made his dreams come true in a finale that ran some 20 minutes over schedule….” — New York Daily News
“….America’s talk show king said goodbye with nostalgic clips, barbed celebrity tributes and a touch of genuine emotion….” — The Telegraph
“….As his farewell episode made plain, David Letterman is a unique talent. You can’t swing a cat in a comedy club, improv class, or writers’ room without hitting someone whose life was changed by Late Night or Late Show, but even the most avid Letterman acolyte couldn’t replicate the comic alchemy on display in tonight’s greatest-hits reels….” — A.V. Club
“….The finale did drag in a few spots — it ran about 17 minutes long — but it was worth it to let Dave humbly thank all the people who helped put the show together…..”– IGN
Watch video highlights of the final ‘Late Show with David Letterman’ below.
Well-wishes for Stephen Colbert
Top 10 List
President Obama and all the former Presidents, “Our Long National Nightmare is Over”
Foo Fighters ‘Everlong’
Final Thank You and Goodbye
Pictures: PR Photos