A fond goodbye to David Letterman!

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by Tricia Delloiacono and Mike Maillaro

Mike: This column is dedicated to our mom.  Along with her love of reading and writing (and MANY other things), Mom passed on a great love and appreciation for David Letterman. Thanks, Mom!  My sister is far more eloquent than I am, so I am passing the mike to her:

Tricia: There's a story my mother has told so many times that it is forever engrained into my memories. As a child, I was a terrible sleeper. I would scream all night and, even if I started asleep, I was up again by midnight. With that established, when I was two or three years old, my mom and I were at the grocery store in the checkout line. My toddler self excitedly pointed to the TV Guide and exclaimed, “DAVE!” as Letterman’s face adorned the cover of the magazine. Mind you, this was when Letterman was still on at 12:37 AM. The customer in front of my mother’s shopping cart turned around with a shocked and appalled expression on, clearly wondering how this small child not only recognized the late night host, but knew him  by name. My mother, being the smartass she is, merely smiled, shrugged and said, “What? She’s a big fan!”

And it’s true, she IS a big fan. I have actually been a David Letterman fan for as long I as I could remember. Some of my earliest memories are being cuddled up on the couch with my mother, room illuminated only by the reflection of the image on the screen, and sleepily watching Dave, Paul, Larry Bud, Jack Hanna, Marv Albert, Top Ten lists and all the wonderful silliness that goes along with the Late Show (or Late Night, in this case). I felt like I knew Dave and have the same connection to him that the last generation had with Johnny Carson. Over the years, Dave and Paul introduced me to new bands, writers, actors, and politicians. I got my daily news updates from the monologue. After 9-11, we looked to him to tell us when it was time to laugh again. When he had heart surgery, we all held our breaths in anticipation. As an audience, we cringed at terrible jokes, but had to smile at his self-deprecation. We looked forward to inside jokes we could smirk at knowing only true fans got it. We wanted giant meatballs, Rupert’s Deli, things being thrown from roofs, and gapped-toothed, caricature laughs. And it’s with heavy hearts we say goodbye to Lone Rangers stories, stunts on 52nd street, pencils being “thrown” through windows and our nightly romps through the Ed Sullivan Theater. We’re losing a set of friends that we’ve never met and truly a legend is retiring.

Mike: Yikes...that is going to be a hard act to follow, sis.  Thanks a lot!

For me, I have felt like I am losing a close friend...which is odd because I’ve never even met Dave.  I was lucky enough to be able to attend a taping years back, and we used to make pilgrimages to the Ed Sullivan Theater whenever we were in New York, including lunch at the Hello Deli.   But, I never got a chance to meet this strange, brilliant man who was always so important to my life and my family.  We used to have a real big Late Night with David Letterman book in our house, and I was reading that book long before I had any clue what I was reading or why it was so damned funny.

It’s weird because I don’t watch Dave every night...but just knowing he was there was always very important to me.  So tonight is going to be a rough one for me.  I will be watching it when it airs, but after that, there is no more David Letterman.  No more Paul.  No more Bruce Willis in ridiculous outfits.  No more sexual harassment of poor Julia Roberts. No more stupid tricks with pets or humans.  No more Jay Thomas telling Lone Ranger stories and throwing a football at a Christmas tree….and if you don’t understand that reference, you definitely are not part of my immediate family...

I am very glad that Dave will be able to enjoy retirement with his family...but I am really going to miss having him around!  TV is about to go through a huge change...and not a good one.  Thank you, David Letterman for being a huge part of my life.   We love you, and we will miss you!