Merrill Markoe, the former head writer of Late Night With David Letterman (she came up with the Stupid Pet and Stupid Human Tricks segments and dated Letterman back in the late seventies and eighties), has a fourth essay collection (Cool, Calm & Contentious) coming out this month. On the occasion of her book she spoke with the AV Club, and has a pretty crazy story! Apparently long after she had left the show, the show called her up to ask her to write jokes for an intern ... whom Markoe later realized, after the whole blackmail scandal went down, was one of the women with whom Letterman had been having an affair.
AVC: “Bobby” is a hilarious, scathing, not very thinly veiled account of David Letterman’s sex scandal. The two of you were involved decades ago. When the media started bringing up your relationship in conjunction with the news of his cheating, what was your inner monologue?
MM: Well, I recall my first thought was, “Oh, perfect. Yay. Just what I needed. Another chance to go out strolling on the deck of the Titanic.” That was a second or two before the time-travel monorail showed up to whisk me back to a portion of my life I had decided to stop visiting.
But as I was sitting in my office, on the computer, trying to take in enough information to comprehend what all the news coverage and the phone calls from television shows and the reporters in the driveway were even asking me about, I was smacked in the face by the bizarre memory that the Letterman show had, just a few years prior, phoned to ask me if they could send me to the winter Olympics to write special material for some female intern. And that the female intern in question seemed to be the same one who was now at the center of this whole brouhaha. Because I had no idea who she was when they mentioned her to me, they offered to send me videos of her segments.
When that conversation came back to me, it took me quite a few hours to make my head stop whipping back and forth like a vibrating tuning fork. Then I needed a little more time to reattach my lower jaw to my upper jaw. The whole thing struck me as so darned weird that I felt I needed to write about it. After all, that’s what I do. I write about stuff that happens in my life that is relevant to me.
While this is certainly not the most horrendous revelation ever, it's still a little icky! Like, we don't quite need a shower, but we're going to go wash our hands now.
Interview: Merrill Markoe [AV Club]