Photo: ‘That’s My Time With David Letterman’
David Letterman has been a huge name in comedy since the 1980s. In 1982 Letterman took over hosting ‘Late Night’ on NBC and remained a late-night host until 2015 when he concluded his run on CBS’s ‘The Late Show’. He has produced comedy, both late night and primetime scripted series, he’s hosted the Oscars, and he’s done basically anything a comedian can wish to achieve. Even after decades of media success, Letterman is far from done.
Letterman has been working with Netflix for a while, his series ‘My Next Guest Needs No Introduction’ began airing on Netflix in 2018. And, yes, his guests did not need introduction. On the show, he interviewed notable figures all the way from Obama to Kim Kardashian. His new Netflix series, ‘That’s My Time With David Letterman’ does not follow this same format of long-form interviews. In fact, it’s not long-form anything.
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Season one of ‘That’s My Time With David Letterman’ consists of six episodes, each following a similar format. Letterman opens the show with a monologue, he then introduces a comedian who does a brief stand-up set. In the end, the guest comedian and Letterman sit for a conversation-style interview to dig deeper into their work. The kicker? Each episode is only about 18 minutes long.
The guests in season one are, in order of appearance, Sam Morril, Naomi Ekperigin, Rosebud Baker, Brian Simpson, Robin Tran, and Phil Wang. Each guest delivered an incredibly brief stand up set, about five minutes each, but they all have vast bodies of work that you can explore if you enjoyed their set. You learn more about their work and their style in their conversations with Letterman that follow their set.
Streamlined Late Night
You may notice something familiar about the format of ‘That’s My Time’. It’s incredibly reminiscent of the late-night talk show format that we’re used to seeing Letterman in. The format of a host monologue, highlighting a guest’s work, and interviewing the guest is tried and true and we see it on just about any late-night show with any late-night host. It’s not unique or groundbreaking but it is effective.
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Late-night shows highlight all sorts of celebrities, from actors and musicians to politicians and athletes. It’s a mixed bag and you could get any combination of guests on any given night, there’s no guarantee you’ll be familiar with each guest. ‘That’s My Time’ takes away this variety and leaves comedy fans with exactly what they’re looking for. Each episode feels like a tiny late-night show, the same format but with one guest and shortened segments (though, a five-minute set is par for the course when it comes to guest comedians on late night). The added bonus for comedy fans is that each guest is a comedian, ready to showcase their talents with their latest set.
A Variety of Guests, Despite Their Common Job
Although every guest is a comedian, they’re far from delivering the same content. There is tremendous variety in comedy; People have their favorite comedians as well as those who rub them the wrong way. Comedy is incredibly subjective, you aren’t going to love it all, and that’s okay. There are enough comedians in the world to deliver jokes that will land for each audience, it’s not a problem that each individual won’t love them all.
‘That’s My Time’ is perfect for those worried about the subjectivity of comedy. The series is like a tasting platter of comedians, you hear a short set, you learn a bit about them, and, less than twenty minutes later, the episode ends. You don’t need to search for comedians that match your preferred style or commit to an hour-long special. There’s a variety of comedians right there and you can try them on for size for each episode. At the end of the season, you’re bound to be a fan of some, if not all of them.
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A New Letterman Era
Each episode is as focused on Letterman as the guests. Letterman shares screen time about equally, as his monologues to open the show are about as long as the guests’ sets. While Letterman is the same man as he was in 1982, it’s been a while since he first sat behind his ‘Late Night’ desk. His demeanor is different from the Letterman we first met. It’s evident that he’s made a home for himself on stage and even after he pseudo-retired his stage presence is that of a completely comfortable man. He’s calm, he’s relaxed, and he delivers his monologues with a conversational quality that we didn’t get from Letterman in his late-night days. Even though his monologues were written by a writing staff, Letterman delivers them like they’re a complete stream of consciousness, no fanfare about it.
This isn’t to say Letterman has completely changed. In the 1980s he made a name for himself with edgy, dry, self-deprecating humor, and that style hasn’t left the building. His comedy is the same as it was decades prior, with the added context of a post-pandemic world as well as years upon years of media experience. His bits are snarky, referring to the show as a superspreader event or poking fun at the guests’ decision to see him live, teasing that they’re a few decades late.
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‘That’s My Time With David Letterman’ – In Summary
‘That’s My Time With David Letterman’ is the perfect casual watch for die-hard comedy fans as well as those who feel entirely neutral of the genre. It’s both a useful tool for learning what type of comedy you enjoy and a beautiful showcase of today’s favorite comedians. Letterman brings his classic style of comedy and mixes it with a casual ease that makes the theater feel like a small, intimate, space.
Sam Morril, Naomi Ekperigin, Rosebud Baker, Brian Simpson, Robin Tran, Phil Wang
By Lara Glennon
Click here to read The Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Cinema, TV and Media. An excerpt from the love letter: The Hollywood Insider’s CEO/editor-in-chief Pritan Ambroase affirms, “We have the space and time for all your stories, no matter who/what/where you are. Media/Cinema/TV have a responsibility to better the world and The Hollywood Insider will continue to do so. Talent, diversity and authenticity matter in Cinema/TV, media and storytelling. In fact, I reckon that we should announce “talent-diversity-authenticity-storytelling-Cinema-Oscars-Academy-Awards” as synonyms of each other. We show respect to talent and stories regardless of their skin color, race, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, etc., thus allowing authenticity into this system just by something as simple as accepting and showing respect to the human species’ factual diversity. We become greater just by respecting and appreciating talent in all its shapes, sizes, and forms. Award winners, which includes nominees, must be chosen on the greatness of their talent ALONE.
I am sure I am speaking for a multitude of Cinema lovers all over the world when I speak of the following sentiments that this medium of art has blessed me with. Cinema taught me about our world, at times in English and at times through the beautiful one-inch bar of subtitles. I learned from the stories in the global movies that we are all alike across all borders. Remember that one of the best symbols of many great civilizations and their prosperity has been the art they have left behind. This art can be in the form of paintings, sculptures, architecture, writings, inventions, etc. For our modern society, Cinema happens to be one of them. Cinema is more than just a form of entertainment, it is an integral part of society. I love the world uniting, be it for Cinema, TV. media, art, fashion, sport, etc. Please keep this going full speed.”
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Lara Glennon is an aspiring screenwriter looking to share her love and passion for all things film and television. She aims to use her writing to shine a light on artists who are working to make change, both in media and in the world. The Hollywood Insider’s focus on substance over gossip is perfect for Lara, as she wants to highlight the good in the world and those who create it. She enjoys spending her time creating and consuming art, searching for unique voices and ideas in media.