6 Things You'll Learn from David Letterman and Jerry Seinfeld's Coffee Date
The late-night legend opens up about Johnny Carson, fatherhood and his own mortality in a fascinating conversation with the comedian.
The elusory David Letterman has submitted to a rare one-on-one interview with friend and fellow comic Jerry Seinfeld in Seinfeld's ongoing web series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Now in its second season, the show puts the sitcom star in the passenger seat of a classic automobile with some of the biggest names in comedy. Their mission: to get a cup of coffee, and engage in some candid banter about their lives in the business.
Here then are five key takeaways from their funny, fascinating -- and, yes, feel-good -- conversation.
Dave's Red Racing Wagon
Letterman owns a 1995 Volvo 960 station wagon gifted to him by Paul Newman, who outfitted with a 380-hp racing engine, just because he found it funny. "I just love the car because of Paul Newman," Letterman says. "He called me one day and said, 'The guy is building me a Volvo station wagon with a racing engine, would you like one?' And because it was Paul Newman, I was a little intimidated and I said, 'Yes, I do, Paul. I'd like one of those cars.'" Letterman tells the story of the time he was on his way to a cardiologist appointment (before his quintuple bypass surgery in 2000) and the car caught fire. The exhaust pipe was "cherry red," Letterman recalls. "Could have killed me, I guess."
Letterman Once Followed Richard Pryor's Sex-with-a-Dog Routine
Letterman later recalls the time he had to follow Richard Pryor at Sunset Strip landmark The Comedy Story in the 1970s. "I kinda got friendly with Richard and really he was a dear guy," Letterman says. "He closed with a bit about having sex with a dog, and I thought, 'OK, there are many facets of genius.'" Later, Dave says the Comedy Store was where he played his very first set -- and got no laughs.
Harry Won't Follow in Dad's Footsteps
Asked by Seinfeld what he'd say if his now 9-year-old son, Harry, were to announce he wanted to become a comedian, Letterman says, "I don't think that will come up." He also mentions that Harry loves the smell of hardware stores -- a Tim Allen-worthy admission that both dad and Seinfeld can identify with. (The two comics later stop by a hardware store just to inhale.) Letterman, 66, is also realistic about his own mortality: "Being an older parent, a lot of the really serious stuff I'll be dead for."
He's Still Not Done Jabbing at Leno
When a waitress asks if they'd like to order food, Letterman says, "No, but get a little something for yourself." It's a line taken straight from the Jay Leno playbook, Letterman explains -- then launches into his Leno impression. Seinfeld says nothing.
What Did Johnny Carson Say During Commercial Breaks?
Talking about the good old days of Johnny Carson's Tonight Show in Burbank, Letterman asks Seinfeld if the legendary host ever talked to him when the mics were off. "He'd give me bits," Seinfeld replies. "'Why don't you try this or try that?'"
Lenny Schultz Should be More Famous Than He Is
As far as influences go, Letterman keeps coming back to the late Lenny Schultz, a human cartoon who was a Laugh-In regular and favorite of Frank Sinatra and Jimmy Stewart -- highlight reel here -- but whose popularity has since faded. (He doesn't even appear to warrant a Wikipedia page.) Dave still cracks up thinking about a routine in which Lenny would whip a prop infant in a baby bjorn, replete with whip-crack sound effects. "Lenny Schultz, god bless him, he would be doing great now," Dave says.