Another funny Letterman story to fill the void a week after his retirement.
A year or two before I got diagnosed with cancer and pulled out all the stops to get on the show, I visited NYC for the first time. I had lined up some comedy shows at a couple clubs and a few open mics. I was on a comedian’s budget so I was staying at a cheap hotel where you shared the bathroom with everyone else on your floor. I’d call it “dorm-style” but dorms are nicer. The room was dark and scary. Just a bed and a curtainless window looking out to a brick wall. It did make me want to stay out and explore the city, so I guess I can’t complain.
Luckily, the week prior I had scored some tickets to go see a taping of The Late Show with David Letterman. I had registered for tickets online, and although they recommended doing so months ahead of time. there had been a fall out. I got a call from someone in the Late Show office and had to answer a couple trivia questions to get two tickets. I remember one question was, “Who is the owner of the Hello Deli?” Of course the answer was Rupert Jee. I invited my comedian friend, Chris Duffy, who was living in Connecticut to take the train in and see the show with me.
I was so excited to see my idol, I arrived at the Ed Sullivan Theater extra early and waited in line for Chris. He kept calling and saying that although his train was running late he would be there in time for the show. I was at the front of the line, so when they they started letting us in I let people go in front of me so I could wait for my friend. The staff at the Late Show kept telling me time was running out, and if he wasn’t there soon I’d either have to go in alone or not at all.
Eventually the entire line was in the theater except for me. I was panicking. A very sweet staff member, named Julie, told me that there was a five minute speech they gave inside about all the rules. She said I could wait outside for my friend during that time, but then it was IN or OUT. This is where all the trouble began. But I didn’t even know it.
While I was waiting outside for Chris, some Late Show ushers welcomed the rest of the crowd inside and told them the rules of the show: “No Food, No Drinks, No Yelling, No Whistling, No Woo-Hooing. Just laugh, clap, and have fun.” Outside, I heard none of that.
Chris finally called and admitted defeat when he realized he was still ten minutes away. I went up to Julie, at the door, and told her I was coming in solo. She said that was actually good news because there was a single seat available in the front row!! FRONT ROW of the Ed Sullivan Theater to see the man who I’d been laughing with since I was 12! What a lucky break. I was ecstatic.
Julie opened the door and waved me in. I stepped inside and grew a big smile as I entered the famed theater. It was chilly, just like everyone always complains about. I caught up to the rest of the audience and looked up at the walls and ceilings like a tourist. I was in heaven. Comedy Heaven. Julie took me to the front of the line with the rest of the people that would be in the front row. I could feel everyone else in line glaring at me as I walked past them arrogantly. “Excuse, me. I’m in the front row.” “Pardon me, front row.”
We were all in the main lobby now. Julie stepped up to the front of the group and said it was time to be taken to our seats. My smile got bigger. I was about to be taken into the theater. To the very front. Mere feet from Dave’s desk and the band.
Just as the line started moving, a Late Show staffer on the stairs leaned over the rail and yelled, “Who’s excited to see the show?”
About half the crowd applauded politely. Of course this was followed by the staffer saying, “Come on, you can do better than that! Who’s excited to see the show?!”
Wanting to show appreciation for my good fortune and to show what a great audience member I was, I yelled at the top of my lungs, “WOO-HOO!!!! I AM! Yeah!” I then put two fingers in my mouth and let out an ear-piercing whistle.
My whistle was cut short as a security guard grabbed me by the arm and yanked me from the line. He shouted at me angrily, “What the hell are you doing?”
I was confused. A male staffer ran up and said, “We told you, No Whistling or yelling!” I stared back blankly, still confused.
The staffer told the security guard to escort me out. “We told you if you did that you’d be asked to leave. Clapping and laughing only!”
The security guard started taking me toward the exit. The people in line shook their heads at me disapprovingly as they filed past into the theater. I was a monster.
It was all over. I was now going to be out on the street with my friend Chris and I didn’t even know why. Just before they opened the exit door for me, Julie appeared again and said, “Wait! He didn’t know the rules. He was outside when you made the announcement.”
The security guard and the staffer looked like they doubted the story, but they did stop. The security guard said, “We can’t have people screaming and whistling during the show.”
The male staffer jumped in, “Especially in the front row.”
Now, I jumped in, “I didn’t know. I’m sorry. Please let me stay. I promise, no more screaming or whistling.”
If it was up to the guard and staffer I wouldn’t have seen that taping. But they had a soft spot for Julie. They caved. But they had to save face. Security guy said, “Fine. But he goes upstairs! Last row of the balcony.”
So that is where I saw my first taping of David Letterman from: The very last row. As far from the front as possible. And it was wonderful.
NOTE: From that location that day I saw Courtney Love desperately try and replicate Drew Barrymore’s iconic moment of flashing her breasts to Dave. Courtney flashed the crowd as well. It was sad. The back of Drew’s shirt on TV was sexier than Courtney’s breasts in person from the balcony.
Told my wife this story the other day and she enjoyed it so much I thought I’d share it:
It’s no secret that I’m a huge David Letterman fan. Have been since the early 80’s. When I went to college after five-plus years in the Navy I already felt a little awkward because I was at least 5 years older than everyone else in my classes. But my love of Letterman added to my “outsider” feelings one day.
As many students do, I took a Creative Writing class. Our first assignment was to show up for the second class and share an example of what we thought constituted creative writing. The professor had us all arrange the desks in a circle, and read our examples aloud to the rest of the class.
The examples were wide ranging in authors and style. However they all tended to be serious and very “literary” in the snobby sense. Lots of Flannery O’Connor, Kafka and Whitman. But even Stephen King made an appearance. There was lots of enjoyment in the readings, as evidenced by the smiles, knowing nods and gratifying sighs the listeners exhibited. Until it was my turn.
“Steve Mazan?” the professor questioned aloud after most of the class had read their examples.
“Here,” I said, raising my hand.
“What do you have for us, Steve?”
“I have a Top 10 List from David Letterman. It’s from the book ‘An Altogether New Book of Top 10 Lists’ by David Letterman and his writers.” I held the book up to show everyone.
Up to this point the other students were detached enough to not turn toward the person whose turn it was to recite. But now everyone turned their head to look at me. At first I thought this was good. I had their attention. I didn’t yet realize they were all looking at me like I was an idiot.
I was positive a big laugh would follow when I announced the title of the list I planned to read as my shining example of what creative writing could be. “The Top 10 Things Overheard in Line for Kickboxer 2”
Silence. It was now obvious they all thought I was a jack-ass. That I would bring some pop art comedy as an example of literary value was an insult to them, the class, and all the great authors and examples that had been recited prior to me.
Nervous and dry mouthed, I read the following list. Strangely, and probably because of the tension in the room, the list cracked me up even more than the dozen of other times I had read it. As I read it, I cracked up more and more. Alone. No one else ever joined in for the entire list.
So I give you here that list. As you read it, please imagine me reciting it aloud to a room of snooty academics with gigantic sticks up their asses.
(FYI Kickboxer 2 was a Jean Claude Van Damme movie)
Top Ten Things Overheard in Line for Kickboxer 2
10. “I hear there’s a lot of kickboxing in this one”
9. “If you didn’t see part 1, you probably won’t be able to follow it”
8. “It’s a lot like Star Wars, only it doesn’t take place in outer space and there’s a lot more kicking.”
7. “Do me a favor and kick me a couple times to get me in the mood”
6. “Excuse me Mrs. Onassis, but could you quit shoving?”
5. “I’ll bet Julia Roberts broke up with Kiefer Sutherland ’cause he couldn’t kickbox.”
4. “So after I knocked over the vase and flowers my mom said, ‘No more kickboxing.’ “
3. “It’s adapted from the Henry James novel.”
2. “Do you think Kickboxer could beat Terminator?”
1. “It’s the best movie ever made about people kicking each other.”
When I finished the professor announced the next name very quickly. It was one of those rare moments where one person is giddy and no else thinks what is happening is funny. All these years later I stand by my opinion: Letterman and his staff deserve the company.
LIVE From SLO Comedy Festival (That’s San Luis Obispo for you non-SLO peeps).
Comedians Jose Sarduy and Rich Slaton who are performing at the fest jump onboard to travel back with Steve and Denise to March of 1998! Titanic is doing anything but sinking on both the movie and music charts.
On the ride there we get to hear about Jose Sarduy’s TV gig where Jennifer Lopez is his boss.
Download the podcast below or watch the Google Hangout on YouTube:
We are joined by Comedian and Audience Warm-up Professional Gary Cannon. Gary is also a Christmas connoisseur.
In addition to debating our Top 5’s in music and Xmas programming we discuss why Steve is so easily choked-up, Rudolph’s bouts with bullying and depression, and hear Denise’s impression of Rudolph—even as he’s running out of batteries.
As a bonus we end the show with a blast of Christmas past that is sure to make your heart warm and fell nostalgic for childhood holidays.
Let us know if we missed any music, movies or TV programs that would be on YOUR list! Comment here or tweet us at @HaHaTimeMachine
Merry Christmas fellow time travelers!
Comedian Steve Mazan & co-pilot Denise steer the Comedy Time Machine back to the first week of December 2009. Remember way back then? Beyonce is on the charts with 2 new girls and Britney Spears is a prolific author. What a week! The pilots also discuss rooting against certain celebrities and the perfect song for NYC.
Merry Christmas everyone! Happy Holidays!
Whatever it is you might be celebrating this time of year have fun with it. Hold your family close and treat your friends like family (maybe even nicer).
I’ve been doing a lot of corporate and private holiday parties and it’s been a blast. Each group has been incredibly welcoming and made me feel like one of the gang for the hour or two I’m with them. It’s so fun to see these employees let off some steam and share some laughs after a year of hard work. They really seem to love the material I’ve written specifically for their companies too. I guess that’s their real chance to share a laugh.
Whether your having a party or not, I hope that the holidays are happy and safe… and most of all full of laughter!
The Comedy Time Machine travels back to the second weekend of October in 2003…where Steve & Denise listen to some hip-hop, watch Bill Murray movies and discuss NOT being taken with Liam Neeson’s Taken sequels.
The Comedy Time Machine goes back to the week of Sept 28 2004! Steve & Denise discuss the polarizing humor of Napoleon Dynamite, Adam Levine’s effect on Denise, and what makes a good logline for a movie.
CTM travels to week of Sept 21st 2010… Denise has instituted a “No Pants Policy” and we discuss Denise seeing/NOT SEEING Spinal Tap…the movie version of Eat Pray Love and the greatest Super Bowl halftime performance of all time!
Super Bowl: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2i0Bc3f7jk
The Comedy Time Machine travels back to Aug 17, 2006…Steve Mazan and Denise discuss battles for control of the marriage, actors who have hit on Denise, and who were the real original party animals. Plus Denise sings like Cee Lo Green.
Originally Streamed video LIVE on Hangouts On-Air
Box Office from this week:
Music Charts from this week: