Archive for the 'NBC Letterman' Category


So Long, Dave


Back when I used to more regularly add stuff to RW370, one of my favorite things to add was YouTube clips of Letterman in the ’80s, under a category named “NBC Letterman”. Tonight is Dave’s last show, so I feel practically obligated: here’s a pointer to the category.

Letterman’s show was the first of a kind of self-aware TV presentation that highlighted the absurdity of the TV medium, producing great laughs – and great tension. Unlike his talk show hero Johnny Carson, little more than a square showbiz MC with a few dumb affectations, Dave could and would drive the show to places that invited equal parts delight and terror. Like Ernie Kovacs, he used everything at his disposal: cameras, remotes, stage play, stunts, animals, as well as a booking and musical sensibility that nobody in network TV could touch. Watching in its earliest days, as a Chicago high school student and punk rocker, a nightly show that managed to confound and bewilder my own sensibilities was something very rare, and treasured more greatly as the years go on.

John Hoolihan, a guy who talks into a microphone, speaking of Dave nicely summed up the show’s genius as “putting a guy who hated talking to people in the role of talk show host”.  Ding.



Lynda J. Barry On Letterman ’88

It’s time to revive the NBC Letterman RW370 category with a nice clip of the great cartoonist Lynda J. Barry (Ernie Pook’s Comeek). Marvel as she lets slip the early inspiration for her visual style (spoiler alert: Peter Max socks), announces her surprising heritage, and explores the ramifications of smoking backwards.  Nice decision at the end to not go along with the TV-smarm talk show patter rhythm as Dave moves to wrap it up.


Harvey Pekar 1939-2010

Sadly, the RW370 NBC Letterman category gets a bump today. Harvey Pekar, writer of American Splendor, the deeply funny and mordant autobiographical comic book anthology that obliterated the long-presumed gap between comics and literature has passed away in his Cleveland home. He was 70.

Pekar’s insistence upon maintaining his idea of the lifestyle and ethos of a steadily and modestly-employed, nose-to-the-grindstone midwesterner (he kept a job as a file clerk in a Cleveland hospital his entire working life) brought him attention beyond his writing work, culminating in the terrific 2003 film adaptation of Splendor starring Paul Giamatti as Harvey.

During the 1980s, the irascible and combative Pekar appeared on David Letterman’s show several times. Always essential viewing, these were cut short by Pekar’s unwillingness to overlook the many sins of General Electric, NBC’s corporate parent, as the clip demonstrates. So long, Harvey.


Pere Ubu On Letterman: Worlds In Collision

We get a glimpse of show business’s hidden ritual abuse of musicians as Dave discusses the effrontery of the show’s performance arrangements for Pere Ubu in the 1989(?) clip. As per the show’s other longstanding policy of requiring musical performances to be shared by Paul Schaeffer and the house band, the forced hybridization of Ubu is in this case not a displeasing one.


John Waters, Vogue Crime Reporter

In which: a) the RW370 “NBC Letterman” category gets a bump b) John Waters promotes his second book “Crackpot” in 1986 and c) ruins the week of the Iceberg Lettuce Marketing Association. Love the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg joke – amazing for being a living reference in ’86 but also for crossing the studio audience’s distaste frontier. Remember when people knew stuff?


Letterman Discusses Nailing Interns in ’87

The past presages the present. Tip of the hat to Ben Schwartz for the heads-up and new addition to the venerable RW370 NBC Letterman video post category.


The Go-Gos Bootleg VHS Video That Doesn’t Feature A Self-Pleasuring Roadie

The Go-Go’s Belinda Carlisle and her shoulder pads make an on-camera appearance on this 1984 Letterman show.  The band stays in the audience seats because NBC fails to pony up the their performance fee.  It’s tame stuff to be sure, made all the greater a waste by my failure to find online the Go-Gos party VHS clip described after the jump.  Did anybody else besides me have a 10-generation dubbed copy of that clip on the same tape paired with an episode of Al Goldstein’s Midnight Blue?




rob [at] warmowski [dot] com

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Rob’s Bands

Rob Warmowski entry at Chicago Punk Database
1984-89: Defoliants
1991-94: Buzzmuscle
2001-05: San Andreas Fault
2008- : Sirs
2008- : Allende

Rob at Huffington Post

April 2020