David Letterman typing intently on laptop

David Letterman has been goofing about Twitter for a while now. He acts more befuddled than he really is — mistaking the 17 feeds that the official Late Show Twitter account is following for the number of followers it has, for example, or literally typing in the words “hash tag”.

I was merely bemused with this ongoing bit, however, with one exception — until the moment frozen in the above screencap struck me. Dave is only a skitch younger than my parents, and I’ve seen him age in step with them since Late Night with David Letterman debuted 30 years ago. He was a wacky yet middle-America guy, in that quietly subversive way many comics born in the heartland who left to seek their destiny in Hollywood are, bucking the system from within, and was a revelation to those of us in our high-school or college years as he rose to prominence (Late Night successors Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Fallon included, straddling that decade-or-so divide). As I wrote of Dave in a post here in 2009, “He’s the establishment now, with Johnny’s time-slot and nearly three decades of hosting behind him, but there was always some of the curmudgeon in his punk behavior; the ratio has simply flipped.”

That squint and lean-in with the glasses on the forehead is a familiar one to me. I’ve watched my mom do it, and more recently my cousins — I’m probably not far from the bifocals myself, now. Seeing the always cranky, still quick-witted, increasingly world-weary Letterman do it too, especially hunched over a fancy laptop (or, as Dave would have it, “Twitter machine”), is just endearing.

As for the exception to my mere bemusement mentioned above, I direct you to Brian Williams’ appearance a couple of weeks ago. The Nightly News anchor, who has shown considerable comedic chops on The Late Show (doing a hell of a Regis Philbin in his previous visit) and hosting Saturday Night Live, called Dave out on everything that he was pretend-mishandling. I can’t find the segment by itself, although the full episode is up at the Late Show website — for not much longer, I suspect, given its second-to-last placement.

I have now for the first time in three days gone an entire post without mentioning Ricky Gervais — which I’d meant to say as a joke, oxymoron that it made itself, but Gervais is/was actually a guest on tonight’s Late Show, so never mind.

[Note: The links to Letterman material have been updated.]

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  1. You're sweet.
    I thought you was gonna announce that you'd joined the Twitterati, though. And I want to remind you that if you do you have to post your nuggets of wisdom here, 'cause I can't handle all that mess.

  2. Did I say "sweet"?
    I meant old.

  3. David Letterman is the quickest guy on TV... I have a lot of admiration for him. Even if I have something funny to say about what just happened on the show, David always gets there a good 2 or 3 seconds before I do. I would like to see Letterman and Colbert get into an argument.