It's clear that David Letterman didn't just have a large impact on the millions of viewers who have tuned in nearly every night for the past 30 years to watch his show. He also made a difference in the lives of his fellow comedians. In his opening monologue last night, Conan O'Brien paid tribute to Letterman. O'Brien spent nearly eight minutes thanking Letterman for the profound impact the older comedian had on his career. "He's been the North Star for me and every comic of my generation," O'Brien said.
The "Conan" host also shared a story about a particularly meaningful moment involving Letterman, from early in O'Brien's career. O'Brien told the audience that in 1994, his show "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" was getting terrible reviews from critics. His entire team was in low spirits. Then, he got a call that changed everything: Letterman wanted to be a guest on O'Brien's show one night. That episode turned everything around, O'Brien said, and described having Letterman on his show as "easily one of the happiest nights of my professional life."
From then on, "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" turned itself around. The writing staff was re-energized. As O'Brien put it in his monologue, "The point behind all of this is I just want you to know, tonight, if you've ever liked any silly or stupid thing I've done on television over 22 years, you must know that it probably never would have happened if it weren't for Dave."
In a final touching tribute to the man who inspired him and changed his career, O'Brien reminded his audience to switch to Letterman's show when it started in the middle of "Conan."
You can watch the entire moving speech below:
If you've been impacted by David Letterman's career, consider sharing this story.