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David Letterman Retiring in 2015

My favorite comedian and talk-show personality, David Letterman, announced last month that he plans to retire next year.  A few days later it was revealed that one of my other favorites, Stephen Colbert, will be his replacement.

In his early days at CBS, Letterman was a comic genius.  In fact, I believe that he redefined comedy as we know it and set the stage for future talk-show hosts like Colbert, along with Conan O’Brien and Jon Stewart.  He turned everything on its head, and took irony to a whole new level.  But what truly made Letterman great were is pre-taped segments.  No one has ever been better at going out on the street and talking to the regular folks.  Some of my favorite bits include his day in the Taco Bell drive through, his day walking around the suburbs with Richard Simmons, fun in a car in L.A., and countless others.  He invented these type of segments as we know them.

Letterman, in his prime, was also the best interview in the business, known for skewering his guests, never shying away from the awkward or uncomfortable questions.  His interviews always felt fluid, like a real conversation, which is rare in late night these days.

As a 12 – 18 year old, I would either stay up late to watch every episode of The Late Show, or I would set the timer on the old VCR and tape it.  Before the rise of the internet, DVR, and online videos, I was afraid of missing one of Dave’s brilliant segments.  It was truly must-watch TV for me.  Letterman was a huge part of shaping my sense of humor, and it will be sad to see him go.

Of course this is all pre-2000 Letterman that I’m talking about.  It has been years since Dave has done one of his classic segments, and his interviews are not what they used to be either.  Over the years his wit has become less sharp and his comedy has grown lazy.  Watching him now, it’s hard to imagine that he’s the same guy who made me laugh so hard as a teenager and impacted comedy in such a dramatic way.  So, as sad as it is to see a classic comedy era come to an end, I think 2015 is a good time for Dave to pass the baton.  And there’s no one better the Stephen Colbert.

Colbert is best known for the character he portrays on ‘The Colbert Report.’  He reminds me a lot of a 1990s Letterman.  He travels to film hilarious interviews with congressman and other politicians for his show.  He is sharp, off-the-cuff funny in a way that Letterman used to be.  He’s been a guest many times on ‘The Late Show’ and is a genuine fan, stating many times in the past how much Letterman has influenced his comedy.

The only drawback to all this is the end of ‘The Colbert Report.’  As one of my favorite shows, I’ll be sad to see it go.  I will miss the Colbert character he portrays on his show, as he will be retiring that character next year when he takes over Dave’s show.  There has been, and likely never will be again, another show like ‘The Colbert Report.’

Hopefully in 20 years, we’ll be saying the same thing about ‘The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”

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