Monday, August 21, 2017

the last book I ever read (Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night by Jason Zinoman, excerpt eight)

from Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night by Jason Zinoman:

Larry “Bud” Melman (who was addressed on the Late Show as Calvert DeForest, because NBC claimed intellectual rights to his character’s name) had a diminished role. Letterman found new ordinary people from the neighborhood to play off of. In a remote on one of his first shows, Letterman visited the Bangladeshi owners of a gift shop, named Mujibur and Sirajul. Rupert Jee, who ran the shop Hello Deli, took on an even more prominent role on the Late Show. They were in the tradition of his old remotes that poked fun at strangers and immigrant names. Letterman never seemed happier than when he was saying Sirajul.

Whereas Letterman had long hosted comics who pushed the limits of good taste, he suddenly became cautious. In October of the show’s first season, he booked the polemical political comic Bill Hicks, who had performed on Late Night with David Letterman many times and was well known in comedy circles for uncompromising and extremely funny rants about politics and religion. He began with a joke about the singer Billy Ray Cyrus and moved on to abortion and religion. “A lot of Christians wear crosses around their necks,” Hicks said in one setup. “Nice sentiment, but do you think when Jesus comes back, he’s really going to want to look at a cross?”

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