When the Lights Went on, the Loner Became Letterman
Comedians, coworkers reminisce about the shy, enigmatic late-night host
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2015 1:32 PM CDT
David Letterman signs off Wednesday night.   (AP Photo/CBS, Jeffrey R. Staab)
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(Newser) – David Letterman will wrap up more than three decades in late-night TV tomorrow with his final Late Show broadcast. Already, tributes from comedy legends and coworkers are pouring in. A few memories, per the Hollywood Reporter:

  • Ray Romano: "My life has been affected more by David Letterman than anybody else's." Days after appearing on the Late Show in May 1995, producer Rob Burnett offered Romano a deal that led to Everybody Loves Raymond, which Letterman helped develop. "Without that moment, I'd be your Uber driver today," he says.
  • Billy Crystal: "All the late-night hosts are funny and irreverent and tremendously talented at what is a most difficult job, but Dave has always had a certain extra dimension to him, and over time, became the beloved curmudgeon," he says. "I will miss my three-times-a-year visits because frankly, I love making him laugh."
  • Don Rickles: "He's a great listener, but also he's very shy," he says. But "when the lights go on, and it's business, he's terrific." Rickles remembers that "even though Dave is a bit of a loner, he showed up to speak about me in front of all those people" at Spike's One Night Only: An All-Star Tribute to Don Rickles. "I still thank him for that," he says.

  • Paul Shaffer: Letterman's band leader tells the New York Times he stuck around for 33 years because, "I realized, ultimately, that this was the best job I was ever going to have. The main reason being Dave himself." He reminisces about his first talk with Letterman about nabbing a spot on his show: "I said, 'Boy, I really hope I get to work with this guy.'" Now, "the only appropriate emotion is gratitude."
  • Rob Burnett: Remarking on Letterman's evolution from a performer to a thoughtful monologuist and interviewer, the show's executive producer notes, "If Dave were still putting on a Velcro suit and jumping up on walls, I think it would be foolish." He continues, per the New York Times, "It's microscopic course corrections, day by day, until you look up and go, 'Wow, things have really changed.'"