Final Show Airs May 20, 2015 on CBS
For 22 years, David Letterman has been the host of the Late Show with David Letterman, airing five late nights a week on CBS. Including his previous tenure on a late night talk show on NBC, this represents the end of 32 year career for David Letterman as the king of late night. At age 68, he finally feels ready to step down and pass the mantle. On May 20, 2015, the final episode of the Late Show with David Letterman airs on CBS. He will be succeeded by Stephen Colbert, whose The Colbert Report has gained immense acclaim with American viewers, but the Late Show with Stephen Colbert will not begin until September 8, 2015, allowing a summer break for viewers to get accustomed to Letterman’s departure and become eager for the new premiere. David Letterman has influenced generations of comedians, setting the tone for an entire era of comedy that was way ahead of his time. Unlike Johnny Carson who preceded him on the late night landscape, Letterman was not afraid to point out artifice around him, bringing an anarchic quirkiness to television that has undoubtedly paved the way for Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, and Craig Ferguson.
Among the guests to appear on the final week of the Late Show with David Letterman, Tom Hanks made his 60th appearance on a show hosted by Letterman. His first time appearing with David Letterman took place on April 4, 1984. For Monday night’s show, Tom Hanks sat on the couch one final time. Also on that show, Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam performed, backed by Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra. For Tuesday night’s show, Bill Murray made his 44th appearance on a show hosted by Letterman. He was also a guest on the first ever Late Night in 1982, getting Letterman off to an excellent start with the undeniable chemistry between the duo. In a hilariously memorable moment, Murray walked on the stage in 1982 proclaiming that he had missed the beginning of the show, and asked what happened, and if it had been going well. In addition, for this penultimate episode, Bob Dylan was the musical guest. At age 73, Dylan hasn’t performed on a Letterman show in 22 years. The last time was in 1993, which was the first season the show played on CBS. As for the final show on May 20, the guests will be a slew of surprises, including a final Top Ten.
Changing the Landscape of Late Night Forever
With the departure of Letterman, late night viewers are awaiting the fall when Stephen Colbert will transition into this more serious role, a departure from his farcical portrayal as the faux conservative character he has played on The Colbert Report. This is not the only change taking late night by storm. In addition, Craig Ferguson completes his tenure on The Late Late Show also on CBS in December 2015. His replacement, the British comedian James Corden who starred on Broadway in One Man, Two Guvnors, will not begin until March 2016. It is unclear if there will be guest hosts in the interim between Letterman and Colbert, although CBS has announced that there will be guest hosts for The Late Late Show between Ferguson and Corden. In any case, the set for the Late Show with David Letterman will be torn down at the Ed Sullivan Theatre, making the way for Stephen Colbert to do his best to step into those very worthy shoes.