I was nine years old when David Letterman's Late Night premiered on NBC, and I think he was really hitting his stride around the same time I was becoming aware of the world and getting interested in television.
I fondly remember staying up late on summer nights when school was out after my parents went to bed around 1985 to watch television, perching myself right in front of the living room's wood-cabinet 25-inch Zenith in the dark with the volume turned up just loud enough so as not to awake the parents but also to be audible above the steady hum of the wall-unit air conditioner. Carson was fun, but Letterman was something else entirely; I immediately felt a connection to his sardonic and self-deprecating style. And who wouldn't love watching people throw watermelons and televisions off the roof of a steep New York building?
In later years, we also have Letterman to thank for fine Late Late Shows with Tom Snyder, Craig Kilborn and Craig Ferguson (Ferguson had the best late night show of the last 10 years, hands down). It's hard to believe there won't be any Dave in late night after tonight, and it feels like a piece of my life is going away.