David Letterman, Norm Macdonald Lament Sameness of Late-Night TV
"I think you are bound by the pressure of who is writing the checks," the former CBS personality says.
David Letterman made a rare appearance on a talk show since retiring as the host of CBS' The Late Show when he dropped by to visit Norm Macdonald's podcast.
The new season of Norm Macdonald Live premiered Monday on YouTube with the two old pals discussing a number of different topics, including Letterman vying for the Tonight Show decades ago and the time he met Richard Nixon.
The hourlong chat was fun and never too serious, but there was a moment when the two comics discussed the current state of late-night talk shows. Letterman was replaced by Stephen Colbert.
Macdonald lamented how he preferred there being fewer nightly talk shows.
"At one point, there was two shows: The 11:30 p.m. show and the 12:30 a.m. show. Johnny Carson and David Letterman," Macdonald began. "Now, there is 100 Johnny Carsons and no David Letterman. I mean, there is 100 11:30 p.m. shows. The show are indistinct."
Letterman interjected, questioning if Macdonald meant the shows are "all the same template."
"I don't know, perhaps," Letterman said, agreeing with Macdonald that Conan O'Brien had "changed it up a little" on his TBS show. "I think you are bound by the pressure of who is writing the checks." Not letting a joke slip by, Letterman then quipped, "How do you get away with this?"
The former late-night host also discussed why he was so particular about the name of his CBS show — with the word "starring" never added to the title.
"I was embarrassed," Letterman said. "I could not possibly, and still don’t, consider myself a star, because I couldn’t refer to myself as a star. Johnny Carson was a star, there’s no question of that. So for me to adopt that — Starring Dave Letterman — that was just ridiculous. In the same way, I always cringe a little when people refer to the folks who watch their show as their 'fans.' I just think that’s a little too … you know, you kind of just stepped over the line of basic humility there. So to call myself a star didn’t go."
Watch the whole interview below.