It’s a line that’s getting used a lot building up to the end of an era: “David Letterman changed the face of comedy.” It’s as general as it is true, but he didn’t do it by himself. There were lifers like Gerard Mulligan and Rob Burnett, the great Merrill Markoe, and brothers Eric and Justin Stangel (the show’s longest-serving head writers), and countless others who made an impact, not just on Late Night and The Late Show, but all across television. And that’s a part of Letterman’s legacy. Not just the indirect impact he had on comics who grew up watching and idolizing the man who seemed to break the rules, but also the people who grew up watching the many shows directly influenced by people who had worked as Letterman writers.
Below, you will see a list of some of those shows and some of those writers. From The Simpsons to The Office, Seinfeld, The Daily Show, and Saturday Night Live, the Letterman way has gotten into the bones of our comedy over the last 30 years, and we’re better for it.