Mike Sacks on David Letterman and the end of an era
Mike Sacks is a respected journalist and humour writer whose work has appeared in many of America’s top periodicals. He’s a member of the editorial staff at Vanity Fair and has written three books including two acclaimed and mind-blowing interview collections, 2009’s And Here’s the Kicker: Conversations with 21 Humor Writers About Their Craft and 2014’s Poking a Dead Frog: Conversations with Today’s Top Comedy Writers. With David Letterman’s retirement as a TV talk show host imminent, it seemed like a good time to gain more insight about what this means for comedy so here, Mike and I discuss Brooklyn and My Little Pony, attending one of the last tapings of the Late Show with David Letterman, growing up with Dave, watching and taping Letterman as a kid and then reciting his jokes to other kids, observing Reese Witherspoon and fakery, encountering Letterman after the taping, the end of an era and connecting with someone, real time and in the moment with great TV, attending a Letterman taping and seeing all the behind-the-scenes stuff, Norm Macdonald’s amazing tribute to Dave this past Friday night, Letterman’s impact on comedy and kids who watched him and acted and spoke like him, a Letterman bias, Merrill Markoe’s tremendous role on Late Night with David Letterman, Dave admitting that he’s been outta the loop the last few years, coasting, NBC to CBS, Letterman’s stunt-free power and great interviewing skills, Jay Leno, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert, silence and listening, how the world of comedy views Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon, subversive comedy lives on the radio and in podcasts, Scharpling, Wurster, and the Best Show, 12:35 AM versus 11:35 PM, Leno’s edginess, Conan O’Brien was pushing the envelope even on the Tonight Show, the tempering of Letterman’s show at CBS, the resilience of the late night TV talk show format, tradition, the dullness of certain interviews as opposed to real talk, Letterman says he might do a podcast, what will happen to TV and comedy when Letterman leaves, youthification, historical comedy, the greatness of Poking a Dead Frog, writing a crime book and/or collaborating on a comedian’s memoir, not chasing a Letterman interview, the Harry Shearer versus The Simpsons fiasco, Letterman’s final episodes feature Tom Hanks, Eddie Vedder, Bill Murray, and Bob Dylan, predicting what the final episode will consist of, anyone can do anything but not everyone can do everything, @michaelbsacks, and that’s all kids.
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