Tonawanda News


April 6, 2014

DUVALL: Letterman leaves immense legacy in late night

Tonawanda News — Television watchers — and I don’t mean people watching TV, I mean people who follow the television industry — have been speculating for years about what would happen when late night legend David Letterman decided to retire.

Well we got that news Thursday. He’ll be done next year.

Obviously I’m not a TV insider so I’ll refrain from the largely mindless speculation about a replacement for the man his fans know simply as Dave. (OK I’ll bite for a moment, Stephen Colbert seems like the front-runner but my choice would be Amy Poehler.)

Instead, I would much rather talk about Letterman’s legacy in comedy. While he spent much of his career trailing Jay Leno in the ratings, comedy fans know that was something of a badge of honor. Letterman was unique, which made him less appealing to dull people. He was goofy but with an acerbic wit. The Midwestern aw-shucks routine belied a crank who never cow-towed to celebrities.

Where Leno was boring, Letterman was edgy and I’ve always thought asking someone who they prefer is as revealing a question as there is about personality and pop culture, right up there with “the Beatles or Elvis?”

To answer the former, I’ve always been a Letterman guy.

His shtick has provided a younger generation of comedians — many of whom revere Letterman as inspiration — with the space to be a little spacy. Comedy fans have Letterman to thank for a late night television landscape that isn’t just a bunch of milquetoast Jay Leno impersonators.

Who else would have looked at Rupert, the sweetly naive owner of Hello Deli across the street from the Ed Sullivan Theater where “Late Night” is recorded, and thought “this guy will be really funny.” But he was. So were many of the bits Letterman did over the years, including his signature Top 10 lists. Some of them are exactly as advertised. Stupid Pet Tricks is, well, stupid. 

Text Only
  • ADAMCZYK: The greatest luxury: peace, quiet It is not difficult, for anyone with the intent, to know more about you than you think they should. Every step of yours involving interactive technology can be molded into a picture of how you spend your time, money and thought.

    August 1, 2014

  • duvall, eric.jpg DUVALL: On lines blurred, crossed and nonexistent It strikes me more and more how blurry the lines have gotten in all facets of our world, large and small.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tucker, Barbara.jpg TUCKER: Oh, the joys of Sound Off Never thought the words "Thank goodness for Sound Off" would ever be printed here.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • adamczyk, ed.jpg ADAMCZYK: And now for something completely different... Last weekend I attended a local movie theater (a plushy, posh experience; they design these places now to get you out of your living room and away from your home electronics) to watch the sun set on the British Empire.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • OUR VIEW: Arson suspect never deserved bail Two of the 11 fires reported on Fifth Avenue could have been prevented with some jurisprudence in evaluating whether the suspect, Michelle Johnston, deserved to be offered bail. Given the obvious nature of a repeat offender who was charged with nine felony arson counts, bail never should have been offered in this case.

    July 25, 2014

  • wallace, amy.jpg WALLACE: Too much information? Is there such a thing as TMI or too much information anymore? Some might say yes.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • duvall, eric.jpg DUVALL: On reading and the lack thereof It was surprising to me a few weeks ago when a friend asked a group of us to estimate how many books we have each read over the last five years. The English teacher said 200 and he far and away led the pack. I was probably the median and my number was 20-25.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • confer, bob.jpg CONFER: A Con-Con would be a con game

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • duvall, eric.jpg DUVALL: Conflict in Ukraine now a concern of global proportions It seems increasingly clear Ukrainian separatists, with the help from the Russian military, are responsible for the tragedy. They, of course, have denied it. They've also denied access to the crash site to international investigators seeking to recover the dead and determine what happened. That's not something the innocent party does.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADAMCZYK: Personal development, rendered in steel Accepting the premise that everyone needs to fill the same amount of time every day (24 hours, every day), some people use theirs rebuilding things, tangible things, and thus fulfill a few intangible goals.

    July 18, 2014