One of the items on this summer's to-do list was to check out David Letterman's new show on Netflix, called My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman. We've missed seeing Letterman on TV since his retirement in 2014, and it was intriguing to hear that he was returning in a format that featured just one guest in an hour without commercial interruptions. There were six episodes in this first season, so the question then became, which guest should we watch? The answer was simple:
We listened to Stern "back in the day" when he was still on terrestrial radio, but there's no money in the budget around here for Sirius, so the chance to watch these two men talk again was too good to pass up. Did the show live up to expectations? Let's discuss...
Two friends just catching up. (pic via popsugar.com)
Observations (Warning: These may be a little bit on the spoiler side.)
- The show starts with a clip of Stern appearing on Letterman's old program in 1984. Cheers to Stern's stylist since then, because this 1984 guys would never have become the King of All Media without the help. He's very awkward, big glasses, a little R. Crumb mustache, and you can feel the anxiousness coming off him.
- Let's be clear about something before we go any further. The staff here is adamantly pro-Letterman's beard, and we will not tolerate disagreement. The man is rocking his new look, and it's just fact. End of discussion. Zip it.
- Stern comes out wearing a fake beard as part of an attempt to convince Dave to shave, and we are not having it. Stern has no business mocking anyone's appearance, and he knows it.
- These two men are clearly friends, and there's a good vibe right away.
- Are we really talking about math? Hopefully that doesn't last too long.
- Stern seems very relaxed. More than that, he seems at peace with himself, and it's a good look.
- Show of hands - how many of you would discuss sex positions with your mom? Not in one million years, friends.
- Stern mentions hurting his mom once because of something he said on the air, and you can see the regret. Turns out there's a real human behind the infamous "shock jock."
- Howard's imitation of his mom sounds like Howard Cosell. Letterman just noticed it as well. He's a perceptive guy, that Dave.
- There's a long discussion of Stern's career. Much of it will be familiar to his fans, but it gets really interesting when he starts talking about why he was so angry as a younger man, and what he feels bad about as he looks back at his career and the rest of his life. That includes hurting David Letterman (who still seems wounded by past attacks), who he clearly admires. It sounds like Stern's done a lot of work on personal growth, and we just said it earlier, but it's striking to see how much more comfortable he seems in his own skin here.
- There's some discussion about Donald Trump, who both men describe as having been "a great guest" back in the day because it sounds like he actually had a sense of humor. Putting the politics to side for just a second, it's impossible to picture the current White House occupant laughing, and one wonders what changed. Maybe it's the stress of being blackmailed by Russia. (Okay, the politics are back.)
- The end of the conversation is rather abrupt, although we suspect that's an editing issue.
- There's a segment after Stern which is....different. Letterman discusses an important issue, but why is this tacked on to the end of this program? He tries to link it to Stern, but that doesn't really work, and then that also just cuts out. Must be the benefit of having your own show at Netflix.
As expected, we enjoyed the program. It was nice to see Letterman once again leading an interesting conversation, and he was able to take advantage of the hour-long format to let the discussion breathe. Stern fans will enjoy his "shtick" as he would call it, but there's no doubt he seems like a happier man these days.
If you're a Letterman fan, you'll enjoy My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman.