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After thirty-two years in late night television, David Letterman announced today that he will retire in 2015.
When I was a kid, his original “Late Night with David Letterman” show had already been running a number of years on NBC before I was even aware of what late night talk shows really were. But after seeing it for the first time, I remember realizing right away that it was very different from most everything that had come before it. Letterman’s show — and the worldview that he presented through it — augured a new kind of comedy, one anchored in self-awareness and irony, that spoke directly to my generation. It’s difficult for me to believe that he’ll be retiring, especially when I look back at this video of his first show, in 1983, with guest Bill Murray — it’s still fresher than most of what we see on talk shows today.
I’ll miss him, but I have to look on the bright side: here, again, is another opportunity for network television to finally break its continuous string of white male late night anchors. Maybe CBS will seize this opportunity to put a minority, or a woman, or a minority woman behind their late night desk. I’ll cross my fingers but I probably shouldn’t hold my breath.+