David Letterman Making Grand Return to Celebrate ‘Late Night’ 40th Anniversary

by Allison Hambrick

In celebration of Late Night’s 40th anniversary, David Letterman is coming back to the show he originated in 1982. Current host Seth Meyers, former head writer of Saturday Night Live, recently announced the huge news.

“The 40th anniversary is next Tuesday,” Meyers said. “And to celebrate, my guest that evening will be the man who started it all, David Letterman.”

“Now that is a show that would make college-age Seth Meyers very happy,” he continued. “Also, current Seth Meyers.”

Letterman left Late Night in 1993 in favor of The Late Show on CBS, in large part because NBC chose Jay Leno to replace Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. Over the years, many comedians took over Late Night. Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon, and Meyers himself have all stepped into the role of host.

Back in 2015, Letterman retired after 33 years of hosting. He then went on to star on My Next Guest Needs No Introduction on Netflix. The series focused less on the traditional talk show format and more on in depth interviews with high profile celebrities such as former President Barack Obama.

When Letterman first exited late night television, Meyers paid tribute to him in Late Night’s opening monologue:

“There are a lot of things I can’t believe about the fact that I get to do this job, but the thing I truly can’t believe above all of the others is that this show, Late Night, this is David Letterman’s show, and if it wasn’t for David Letterman, this show wouldn’t exist. And if it wasn’t for David Letterman, I wouldn’t be here. And if I wasn’t here, you’d just be an audience of people in an empty studio… it’s incredible to be part of that legacy.”

Letterman’s appearance will be on the Feb. 1 episode of Late Night.

David Letterman Credits Legacy to Johnny Carson

While Letterman would become a staple of the late night television scene, he started of as a fan, just like the rest of us. Meyers may have looked up to Letterman, but the latter drew inspiration from Carson. In fact, Letterman credits the iconic The Tonight Show host with leading many comedians into the field.

“I moved to Los Angeles from Indianapolis in 1975 and the reason I moved is because of Johnny Carson and The Tonight Show,” Letterman explained. “And I’m not the only one. I would guess that maybe three generations of comedians moved to be where Johnny was. Because if you thought you were funny, and you wanted to find out if you could hit major league pitching, you had to be on The Tonight Show.”

Perhaps, that is why he felt so strongly that he was passed over when NBC chose Leno to host The Tonight Show. Either way, Letterman’s hosting success is undeniable.