I never saw an entire David Letterman show until last night. During his run from the ‘’80s through 2015, I was either working or asleep because I had to be at work early. The snippets I saw did not impress: Top 10 got old fast. Stupid pet tricks were excruciating. Paul Shaffer’s talents seemed painfully wasted.
So it was with some hesitation that I decided to watch My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. Figuring that President Barack Obama could redeem pretty much any situation, I decided to risk it.
The final product was better than expected. Letterman needs to lose that beard but otherwise comported himself well, except for his ungracious rebuff when Obama tried to ask questions. While their conversation offered some insights, the most moving sections involved Letterman’s walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge with Congressman John Lewis. The skillful interweaving of Lewis’s reaction to the current political situation with footage of the assault by police officers and other images of the movement gave the “My Next Guest” a gravitas that it would otherwise have lacked.
Letterman revealed a great deal about himself when he said that he and his buddies caught a boat to the Caribbean where they could drink legally instead of participating in the Selma march. He essentially asked why. Obama was too polite to say because Letterman didn’t have enough invested in the outcome – white privilege on display in a graphic way.
Even though I found the program engaging, I won’t return unless he interviews Oprah or Margaret Atwood.