I have been a fan of David Letterman since he hosted a 12:30 a.m. daily talk show on NBC in the 1980s. I got hooked on his quirky sense of humor and absurd stunts: watermelons and other objects being dropped from the top of a five-storey building or a dozen or more people dressed in different costumes entering a store and not buying anything.
He not only had the usual run of celebrity guests, authors and politicians on his show, he also pioneered segments like "Stupid Pet Tricks" and later, "Stupid Human Tricks." He also has a daily Top Ten list, a roll call of absurdities that began as a parody of the sexiest celebrities list the media cranks out regularly.
Recently, he featured "Top Ten Rejected Lionel Richie Song Lyrics" (Number 5: "Stuck on you / I bet you wish you weren't drunk / When you went and got that tattoo / Yes it's truly lame / That you misspelled your name"). He also had U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama deliver "Top Ten Fun Facts about Gardening" (Number 7: "In his lifetime, the average American will eat half a radish").
And, in this tradition, may I present to you my own "Top 10 memorable moments on 'Late Show with David Letterman'":
No.10. Dave had a 16-year feud with Oprah. Dave says it began when he tricked Oprah into paying his dinner tab. Throughout the years, he made fun of her on his show but pestered her to be his guest, anyway. The "feud" finally ended when the Queen of Talk appeared on his show in 2007.
No. 9. Dave shaves on air. He appeared with a thick beard following a three-month absence on air occasioned by a writer's strike. He kept his facial air for several weeks and then had the staff of a beauty salon shave his beard on the air.
No. 8. Joaquin Phoenix spaces out. Sporting a beard, the actor appeared to be spaced out as he interacted with Dave. None of his comments made sense and Dave had a hard time prying answers from the actor.
No. 7. Dave says he got married. In March this year, Dave announced his marriage to longtime girlfriend Regina Lasko in a civil ceremony in Montana. The 66-year-old said he was late for his wedding because his truck got stuck in the mud near his house. They have a seven-year-old son named Harry, who is often mentioned in his monologue.
No. 6. Drew Barrymore shows her boobs to Dave. The actress showed up on Dave's birthday and the host got the surprise of his life when Drew exposed her boobs to the birthday boy for a few seconds (but not to the audience because she had her back to the camera).
No. 5. Dave gets a heart bypass. Dave went missing from the show for several weeks after he underwent a quintuple heart bypass surgery. When he came back, he brought the entire team responsible for the bypass to thank them on the air. Later, he used the medical procedure as a continuous source of jokes.
No.4. Sarah Palin rips into Dave. Former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin criticized Dave for a sexually oriented joke about his 14-year-old daughter. Dave countered that he was referring to his 18-year-old daughter and her controversial pregnancy. Eventually, Dave admitted his error and apologized to Palin and her family and those who felt offended.
No. 3. Madonna ignores Dave's questions. Madonna was a hostile guest and kept ignoring Dave's questions. Her replies were peppered with lots of F-words that had to be bleeped.
No. 2. Dave gets death threats. For making jokes about the death of an Al Qaeda leader, Dave said a website posted a death threat against him, which the U.S. State Department took seriously. But, he said, "everybody knows it's (Jay Leno)." Dave has feuded with Jay since 2002, when Jay supposedly snuck behind Dave's back to land the "Tonight Show" gig, which Dave wanted, too.
No. 1 Dave admits sleeping with his interns. Dave opened his show by telling the audience that he was being blackmailed because of his sexual indiscretions. The audience was expecting a punch line but it never came. He was dead serious and admitted that he had indeed slept with female members of his staff. His blackmailer, a CBS executive, was later sentenced to jail and community service. Dave survived the 2009 scandal. See number 7 above.