Tonawanda News


April 6, 2014

DUVALL: Letterman leaves immense legacy in late night


Tonawanda News — The real secret behind Letterman’s genius is he’s unafraid to be unfunny. It gave him the freedom to experiment with zany, goofy, cranky.

You can find traces of Letterman in all the great comedians today — Louis CK, Jon Stewart, Colbert. The list goes on and on.

After all, there’s a reason Letterman, and not Leno, is a Kennedy Center honoree.

Leno practically begged his audience to like him. He started off shows high-fiving the front row. Letterman was just as likely to make fun of someone who turned up to watch his show.

But Letterman, despite the darts sent into the crowd from time to time, deserves credit for the admiration he demonstrated for his viewers. Letterman trusted his audience, the highest praise a comedian can give and a prerequisite for any groundbreaking funny man. If you trust the audience they will follow you where you want to take them.

Letterman, with his trademark wit, deadpanned his retirement announcement thusly: “What this means is Paul and I (longtime band leader Paul Shaffer) will finally be able to marry.”

It has been evident for a while now that Letterman’s time in TV was nearing an end. He’s sunk to last of the big three broadcast networks in the ratings. It feels like the rising generation of comedians has overtaken Letterman’s place. Jimmy Kimmel exudes LA cool and Leno’s replacement on NBC, Jimmy Fallon, is a smooth, multi-talented performer who understands the emerging role social media play in engaging an audience.

It’s Letterman’s time to step away. But he leaves behind a legacy that’s as large, if not larger, than any late night comedian to grace the airwaves.

Thanks for the laughs, Dave. It won’t be the same without you.

Contact Managing Editor Eric DuVall at or follow him on Twitter, @EricRDuVall.

Text Only
  • 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

  • WALLACE: Festival season is underway Summer is the season of fairs and festivals. From Canal Fest in the Tonawandas to the Allentown Art Festival and Italian Heritage Festival in Buffalo to the Erie County Fair in Hamburg, the Western New York area has no shortage of things to do with the family over the summer.

    July 17, 2014

  • duvall, eric.jpg DUVALL: King George's abdication leaves many questions I've covered Niagara County politics for 10 years and it's been a fascinating -- and often infuriating -- experience. With the news the man known with equal parts respect and cynicism as "King George" is walking away it's about to get more interesting.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Canal Fest, here we come This column should be titled "Roads and Streets." First of all, Meadow Drive is finally open. Although it took very long to be completed, it's beautiful. Riding by the other day brought into focus how many people will use this to cut across town. One less thing for residents to complain about.

    July 12, 2014

  • ADAMCZYK: Homesick for someplace I've never been You stumble over things that make you wonder. I do, at least, and the latest is one of those advertising artifacts from yesteryear that encourage me to ponder what's changed and what never will.

    July 11, 2014

  • WALLACE: Playing politics as usual The immigration crisis is just the most recent example of how dysfunctional Washington, D.C. is right now.

    July 10, 2014

  • duvall, eric.jpg A stunning scandal in Mississippi-voting|DUVALL: A stunning scandal in Mississippi We don't tend to talk a whole lot about Mississippi on this paper's editorial page and for good reason. It's a long way away in both distance and temperament. But I swear this will be worth it.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo