After 33 years in the latenight game — which included more than 6,000 episodes and 20,000 guest interviews between his time on CBS and NBC — David Letterman bid his final farewell to the Late Show on Wednesday night. And he went out strong.
Rather than getting sappy with his opening monologue — we’ll leave that to Jimmy Kimmel — Letterman kept things light at the top of his final hour, offering up jokes like “It’s beginning to look like I’m not going to get The Tonight Show,” then announcing his next venture as “the new face of Scientology.”
He also offered up a few brief thoughts on his successor, saying he’s “very excited” to see what Stephen Colbert does with the Late Show. “I think he’s going to do a wonderful job,” he said. “I wish Stephen and his entire crew nothing but the greatest success.”
Following a string of jabs from equally relevant cultural staples, from The Simpsons to Wheel of Fortune — all of which can be seen in our best moments gallery below — Letterman launched into his final, and irrefutably most star-studded, Top 10 list: “Things I’ve always wanted to say to Dave.” Here’s how it went down:
10. Alec Baldwin: “Of all the talk shows, yours is the most geographically convenient to my home.”
9. Barbara Walters: “Did you know you wear the same cologne as Muammar Gaddafi?”
8. Steve Martin: “Your extensive plastic surgery was necessary and a mistake.”
7. Jerry Seinfeld: “I have no idea what I’ll do when you go off the air. … You know, I just thought of something. I’ll be fine.”
6. Jim Carrey: “Honestly, Dave, I’ve always found you to be a bit of an over-actor.”
5. Chris Rock: “I’m just glad your show is being given to another white guy.”
4. Julia Louis-Dreyfus: “Thanks for letting me take part in another hugely disappointing series finale.”
3. Peyton Manning: “Dave, you are to comedy what I am to comedy.”
2. Tina Fey: “Thanks for finally proving men can be funny.”
1. Bill Murray: “Dave, I’ll never have the money I owe you.”
“We’ve done over 6,000 shows,” Letterman said in a subsequent speech to the audience, a statement met with well-deserved applause. “I was here for most of them, and I can tell you a pretty high percentage of those shows just absolutely sucked. Also, in light of all of this [recent] praise, merited or not, do me a favor: Save a little for my funeral. I’d appreciate it.”
The latenight legend wrapped things up with a long list of thank-you’s — including an admirable nod to his writers, as well as an emotional tribute to his entire band, led by the incomparable “musical genius” Paul Shaffer — before cuing up the Foo Fighters for a farewell performance of “Everlong” (which will forever be Chandler and Monica’s wedding song in my mind, but that’s neither here nor there).
Your thoughts on Letterman’s final Late Show? Grade it below, browse our gallery of the best moments and drop a comment with your full review.