Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night by Jason Zinoman:
Sitting as his desk, David Letterman cleared his throat. “I have a little story that I would like to tell you,” he said, adding a folksy flourish right out of a kindergarten class: “Do you feel like a story?” Then he began describing the details of what sounded like an ordinary morning three weeks earlier. He woke up early and got into his car. Letterman explained that he was surprised to find a package there. The audience laughed, even though he hadn’t made a joke. In the package was a letter. This was how he described its message: “I know that you do some terrible, terrible things. And I can prove that you do these terrible things.”
The audience laughed again. Letterman had been telling comic fictions with conviction for so long that it was hard to tell if this was real. His tone sounded more like that of a producer pitching a hostage movie to a studio than a guy making a contemplative confession. Then he described the threat from the man who had written the letter, which made the situation even more ridiculous. He’d told Letterman that he would write a screenplay filled with the terrible things he did unless he got money. Gliding right past what those terrible things were, Letterman stopped and gesticulated. “That’s a little—and this is the word I actually used—that’s a little hinky,” he said.