Part L of the April A-Z Blogging Challenge, where every day this month except Sundays, I'll be talking about things I love - one thing for each letter of the alphabet.
In Australia we don't really have tonight shows. We used to have one or two shows that would air once per week, but they've disappeared now. So in recent years, Australian TV stations have just been airing the tonight shows you'd get in America. It started with Letterman on The Late Show. Later on it was Leno on The Tonight Show. Now they're airing Craig Ferguson and his unexplainable robot sidekick Geoff. But Letterman's show was the only one I went out of my way to watch.
I would have to stay up past midnight to watch it, as the TV station decided to air each episode in their own late-night time slot. Not being very good at staying up late, I went through phases of watching it every night to every once in a blue moon to not at all. But whenever I did watch it I really enjoyed it. I loved hearing that band come in as you saw an areal shot of the Statue of Liberty and Alan Kalter proudly exclaiming "From New York! The greatest city in the world!" He said it was such conviction that for the duration of the show I believed it.
As a result of Australian producers holding onto the show until they could air it at night, I believe each episode I saw came between 12 and 24 hours after it aired in America. Nonetheless, it still felt like I was watching it live. I consider myself incredibly lucky that of the thousands and thousands of shows that aired, one of the few dozen I saw was the one where he revealed on air that he'd been sleeping with his interns. He came back from a commercial break and it was just him alone at his desk. He started telling the story of a letter he received that said "I know what you've done." Still thinking that this was going to go somewhere funny, the audience and I both kind of chuckled.
He went on to say that he met with this person and they had incriminating photos. They threatened to go public with them if he didn't hand over a big sack of cash. Letterman just went to the authorities and together they put the guy in jail. Letterman got to the end of that story and there was silence as the audience (me included) sat captivated. Then Letterman revealed what the photos were and the audience finally broke into applause. Not because of what he'd done, but because he'd taken ownership of it and they got to be there to witness it. I felt the same way as them, but I was also annoyed that I wouldn't get to talk to anyone about it. Not many people are up watching one channel past midnight, and certainly none of my friends were doing it.
These days it's all about Jimmy Fallon. Fallon's Tonight Show. has been the first to really - and I mean really - master the art of viral media. Everything they do on that show becomes a YouTube clip that's shared hundreds of thousands of times. I'm impressed that Letterman managed to stay as such an institution for as long as he did. He was really one of the best.