David Letterman visited Manhattan’s Ed Sullivan Theater last night for the first time since he retired from CBS’ The Late Show eight years ago, chatting comfortably with his successor Stephen Colbert as if he’d never left.
Fittingly, the two late-night heavyweights discussed, among other things, other late-night heavyweights. When Colbert mentioned that he’d become friends with Dick Cavett and occasionally sought his advice, he asked if Letterman ever contacted his own champion, Johnny Carson, in a similar capacity.
After a brief pause, Letterman shook his head no. “Johnny is, was, the Mount Olympus,” he said, “so you didn’t just call Johnny and say, ‘Hey, Johnny, what do you think? Should I do this? What about the color of the socks, are they going to be alright, Johnny? So, no, I was pretty much alone. I was orphaned in the talk show world.”
When the audience responded to the “orphan” comment with a sympathetic “awww,” Letterman, clearly back in his element, deadpanned, “I don’t appreciate the sarcasm.”
Asked by Colbert whether he missed anything about his years in late night, Letterman turned serious. “I miss everything,” he said. “Mostly, it’s fun. Very few things in life provide one the opportunity — and I can’t speak for you on this topic — but for me, if you muck one up, 24 hours later, you get to try again. And that’s a pretty good device.”
Letterman hosted The Late Show on CBS from 1993 and his retirement in 2015.
Watch the interview segment above.