David Letterman was back Monday night with jokes about himself and his current “predicament.” It was the first new show after Thursday night’s awkward revelation that he had been the victim of an extortion attempt because he had sex with female staffers.
Letterman walked out to warm applause and asked the audience, ” Did your weekend just fly by? …I’ll be honest with you folks, right now I would give anything to be hiking on the Appalachian trail.” He had the zingers ready. “I get into the car this morning and the navigation lady wasn’t speaking to me. Ouch!” He said that he spent the “whole weekend raking my hate mail.” Referring to his wife’s reaction, he joked that it was “chilly outside my house, chilly inside my house.”
There was criticism of Letterman over the weekend that he has ridiculed so many politicians and their sex scandals that he wouldn’t be able to point a finger at them any more. Dave mocked himself by mentioning them: “First of all Bill Clinton said … no…Good news for South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford because he… How about that Elliot Spitzer?…” This was the beginning of what Letterman called “Phase One of the scandal. Phase Two, next week I go on Oprah and sob.”
Dave’s humor has always been a mixture of the self-deprecating and the sarcastic. Even though his world is in turmoil, he is able to keep his wit and his perspective. Monday night he brilliantly turned every reference and joke on himself. (The “Top Ten List” was not about Letterman, though. It was “Top Ten Questions To Ask Yourself Before Adopting a Monkey.”)
But things got serious after the break. Dave apologized to his current staff for their being “browbeaten and humiliated,” by the press because of what happened with past staffers. And he did stress that those “episodes” were in the past. As for his wife Regina, Letterman said that she was “horribly hurt by” his behavior and that his responsibility is trying to fix it and “I got my work cut out for me.”
Letterman also explained that he decided not to be victimized by giving in to the blackmailer’s demands and that in spite of all the embarrassment he knew that he had done the right thing. A moment later he lightened the mood and apologized again to Sarah Palin because, “What can it hurt?”
Guest Steve Martin observed that “the one thing that will come out of this mess, has come out already , that it proves that you’re a human being. And you know, we weren’t really that sure before.” He was right. Jokes aside, Letterman has always been a deeply private man not close to many people and is now sharing personal details of his life and owning up to mistakes in an open, honest and most public way.
David Letterman rose to the occasion Monday night and is making headway through a scandal that might crush some. But he is showing courage and resilience and certainly should be able to come out of this as the current and future “King of Late Night.”
Source: “The Late Show with David Letterman,” CBS