(May 21, 2015) – “Thank you and good night.”
Those were David Letterman’s parting words as the Hoosier native bid farewell during his last “Late Show.” The memorable episode was filled with nostalgic moments and a boatload of celebrities.
The crowd greeted Letterman with a standing ovation during his opening monologue and broke out in chants. He quickly tried to defuse the situation.
“Please be seated. I don’t know what to do. All right, thank you. That’s it. That’s it. Stop it. Don’t make me… OK… all right, sit down. Thank you. Don’t thank me! Now, see what happens? We don’t have time for the giving gifts to audience segment,” Letterman joked.
“I want to tell you one thing: I’ll be honest with you. It’s beginning to look like I’m not going to get ‘The Tonight Show,’” he said, referencing his famous snub in favor of Jay Leno as Johnny Carson’s successor on the NBC program.
A star-studded guest lineup delivered the night’s Top Ten: “Top Ten Things I’ve Always Wanted to Say to Dave.”
Alec Baldwin, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jim Carrey, Tina Fey, Barbara Walters, Steve Martin, Peyton Manning and Bill Murray all had their moment to take a shot at the host.
“Of all the talk shows, yours is most geographically convenient to my home,” Baldwin said.
“I have no idea what I’ll do when you go off the air,” Seinfeld quipped. “You know, I just thought of something. I’ll be fine.”
“Thank you for letting me take part in another hugely disappointing series finale,” Louis-Dreyfus joked, taking a jab at both Letterman and her former “Seinfeld” co-star, who had presented just a few guests before.
“You are to comedy what I am to comedy,” Manning said during his brief appearance.
The show featured several segments with classic Letterman moments, including a montage of clips from the host’s interaction with kids.
Letterman took nearly 12 minutes to say goodbye to the audience and talk about his move from NBC to CBS. He thanked his staff and crew for their hard work, from researchers to segment producers to talent coordinators and everyone in the control room. He singled out several of them, including announcer Alan Kalter, stage manager Biff Henderson and the CBS orchestra (Anton Fig, Felicia Collins, Sid McGinnis, Will Lee, Tom Malone, Aaron Heick, Frank Greene and Paul Shaffer). He thanked his mother—who became a breakout star on his show—and his family.
He also reflected on the final weeks of “Late Night.”
“The last six weeks have been crazy. People have been saying lovely things about us, and it’s really been over the top. I can’t tell you how flattering, embarrassing and gratifying it has all been.
“First of all, we’ve done over 6,000 shows,” he said, pausing for the audience’s applause. “I was here for most of them and I can you a pretty high percentage of those shows just absolutely sucked. And also, in light of all of this praise, merited or not, do me a favor: save a little for the funeral, all right? I’d appreciate it.”
And then, as he always had, Letterman made it to the end of the show. There was nothing more to say, really, and the host knew it.
“All right, that’s pretty much all I got. The only thing I have left to do for the last time on a television program: thank you and good night.”
Foo Fighters then performed “Everlong,” the same song they played when Letterman returned from heart surgery. The performance played over clips of memorable moments throughout the years.
Other notable moments: