When David Letterman leaves his desk on Wednesday for the final time, it will mark the end of one of the most successful late night talk shows ever. For over three decades, his version of "Late Night" has been an expected source of comfort and familiarity, bringing viewers the news with a comedic twist. David Letterman's retirement signifies not just the finale of another TV show, but a true changing of the guard. Stephen Colbert will step in as the new host, and though we're excited to see what he'll do, no one can truly replace Letterman, who has inspired so many other comedians over the years.
Letterman himself had heroes who came before him, such as the original late night host Johnny Carson, who hired Letterman as his successor. But even Johnny couldn't have predicted his protégée's meteoric success. Several years ago, Letterman beat his old boss' record by becoming the longest-running host in the history of late night talk shows. That feat isn't likely to be surpassed anytime soon.
It's not just viewers at home who will miss the iconic host when he takes his final bow, but his colleagues in comedy. Here's just some of the praise other entertainers have for David Letterman:
"Not only is my first guest tonight the main reason I got into television, he is the main reason I got a television," said Kimmel of his hero.
Kimmel is a famous Letterman fan. To show his appreciation, he will air a re-run of "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on Letteman's last night so as not to compete with Letterman's final hurrah.
Not to be outdone by Kimmel, Seinfeld told Salon if he currently had a show on TV, he'd do more than just air a re-run. To honor Letterman, Seinfeld said, "Why not put up a test pattern if you really want to respect the guy?... That's what I would do. That's a real tip of the cap."
Other late night hosts had kind words for Letterman as well. Conan told Vulture, "To me, that was the seminal moment, seeing him for the first time. That's what really changed everything. He had such a huge impact for all the comedians of my generation. The show was so different from everything I had seen on television before."
This up-and-coming "Saturday Night Live" star considers his appearance on Letterman a game-changer for his career, he told Vulture:
"I got to do stand-up on Letterman, and it was a huge honor because David Letterman is a pillar of comedy judgment. So, if you get a gracing from David Letterman, you feel like you really did something."
Letterman is "king," Arnett told Vulture:
"I was thinking about the fact that his show is coming to an end, and I was thinking through my formative years when he was on NBC and then on CBS. He really played such a huge role. He was so influential to so many people. He was the king for our generation. The novelty never wore off for me."
The host's influence even reaches beyond comedians. As Sidibe told Vulture,
"I've only been on the show once, and it was my first ever, late night talk show… I remember being really nervous, and knowing that if Letterman didn't like me, it would be like crash-landing awful. But I remember making him laugh and feeling really good that I had made him laugh. Because I felt like, 'The rest of this is going to be smooth sailing.' Not just the rest of the interview, but the rest of all of my interviews forever would be smooth sailing."
Congratulations on your retirement, Dave. We will miss you!
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