Conan Writes a Touching Tribute to the Off-Kilter and Revolutionary Comedy of David Letterman

Conan O'Brien and David Letterman back in 1993. Photo: Al Levine/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

David Letterman is leaving the Late Show, have you heard? And while he's getting nostalgic musical guests for last hurrahs, he's also going to be getting a ton of tributes. One such tribute came in the form of an essay written by Conan O'Brien in Entertainment Weekly, in which he describes Letterman's comedy as a "revolution" and "stunning." He goes on to describe the first time he watched Letterman, which was on his morning one (called simply The David Letterman Show), which was "subversive" and "untamed" — especially for a morning show. Then came the late-night show, which reinvented the format, moving it from comforting to "surreal and off-kilter." He writes:

So let's keep it simple: Not one single writer/performer in the last 35 years has had Dave’s seismic impact on comedy. Every day, I read that a new comic has ‘changed the game,’ and admittedly there is an absurd abundance of talent and creativity out there right now. But in today’s’ world of 30 late night programs, it’s tempting now to take Dave for granted. Do not. Dave was a true revolution—and I believe his innovations are up there with the light bulb and the Twix bar. Like all revolutions, it was such a seismic shift that it was disorienting and a bit messy at first, and it has taken us time to realize the sheer magnitude of the shift.

You'll be missed, Dave.