Friday, April 4, 2014

From the home office in Wahoo, Nebraska, it's "Top 10 reasons why the soon-to-retire David Letterman's 4am episode remains one of my favorite Late Show eps"

Letterman wakes up the sewer rats at 4am.
10. The Top 10 List for May 14, 2004 was read by people working the graveyard shift.

9. I was too young to stay up and watch NBC's Late Night with David Letterman when it first aired. But I grew up watching the soon-to-retire Letterman's CBS show (if the words "Happy Da Birthday Ve" or "Dave and Steve's Gay Vacation" don't make you smile, you're clearly a Leno fan), and the May 14, '04 episode with Amy Sedaris and musical guest Modest Mouse, which Letterman taped earlier that morning at 4am in front of an amazingly awake (but not really amazing to most of New York) Ed Sullivan Theater studio audience, was the closest Late Show has gotten to recapturing the weirdness of Letterman's Late Night years.

8. Unless I'm mistaken, Late Show remains the only late-night talk show that ever taped an episode at 4am. "We thought it would be cool, just something different to try... The city is always interesting, but particularly interesting at 4am," said Late Show executive producer Rob Burnett to USA Today in '04 about the show's one-time decision to switch from Letterman's usual late-afternoon recording time to an ungodly hour.

7. Letterman made one of his grandest entrances by riding on horseback to the Ed, to the tune of Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra's rendition of John Barry's Midnight Cowboy instrumental theme. An underrated John Barry movie theme as walk-on music on a late-night talk show! Shaffer's walk-on music choices have occasionally been questionable (he once soundtracked black SNL cast member Ellen Cleghorne's entrance with "Jimmy Crack Corn," a song about a black slave, and then claimed it was because "Cleghorne" sounded to him like "Crack Corn"--I'm not making this up), but otherwise, they've always been clever, and I'm going to miss that part of the show, as well as Letterman's wit and snarkiness.

6. I stopped liking Sedaris ever since Angry Asian Man wrote in 2009 about her history of doing this, but the 4am show was worthwhile also because it featured the frequent Late Show guest, who wasn't accustomed to being in front of a camera at 4am, at her loopiest.

5. Shaffer soundtracked the porno video store part of Sedaris' 4am walking tour of her Greenwich Village neighborhood with the Vince Guaraldi Trio classic "Cast Your Fate to the Wind."

4. There was a segment about catching rats in Manhattan.

3. The rat expert's reply to Letterman's question about why he studied rats was "Because I hate them."

The New York bedbugs will salute Letterman on his day of retirement by crawling into the mattresses of New York Post writers who hate Letterman.
(Photo source: National Geographic Creative)
2. Everyone in the studio audience received an Egg McMuffin. I don't care for Mickey D's, but the only worthwhile part of the Mickey D's menu is its breakfast items. Want to scare away a hipster? Hurl Egg McMuffins at him.

1. Fucking Midnight Cowboy theme, y'all!

Speaking of John Barry, his score cues from The Knack... And How to Get It, The Persuaders, From Russia with Love, On Her Majesty's Secret Service and The Living Daylights can be heard during "AFOS Prime," from 4pm to 9pm Pacific and 11pm to 7am Pacific, Monday-Wednesday on AFOS.

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