Sadly, YouTube is the only place you can find evidence of Letterman’s early dominance, but in celebration of the man, we sought out these 10 (of course it’s 10) original, wonderful, and bizarre bits to shine as a reminder of the 11-year period when Letterman anchored the most unpredictable hour on television.
The Hank Aaron Post-Interview Interview
In a clever play on cliche postgame interviews, former all-time home run champion Hank Aaron walked through the studio tunnel after wrapping an interview with Letterman and high-fived a crowd of NBC staffers before stopping to speak with WNBC’s Al Albert for a post-interview interview about Letterman’s interview prowess and the experience of having been on Late Night. This was the third episode of Late Night. So even at that early point, Letterman was working to deconstruct the late night talk show and present something unique.
The Mobile Late Night Monkey Cam
It may not seem that impressive in the era of GoPro cams, but back in the 80’s, Letterman was a trailblazer for strapping a camera to a stubborn monkey named Zippy who happened to be wearing roller skates. The end result was random and amazing as Letterman led Zippy by the hand through the hallways of NBC for a visit to the Live at 5 news cast and Al Roker.
Letterman often donned weird suits for stunts — the Alka Seltzer suit, for instance — but the Velcro Suit and the sight of Letterman stuck to a wall is probably the most iconic.