[I]t must be funny, because David is funny and hip. Right? Or maybe not; maybe heâ€™s actually a brackish, hermetically-souled guy whoâ€™s spend the last twenty years going from table to table with a giant wooden grinder, asking anyone if they want some fresh-ground scorn with that. Say when. Or maybe heâ€™s about as edgy as a soccer ball, and exists only to remind people they were Edgy once, and hence must be ever-blessed with the gift of Wryness and Irony. With those shields we can never grow old, you know. Weâ€™ll always be as sharp and perceptive as we were when we were sitting on a cast-off sofa in college, working through a midweek buzz, happily fellated by the preconceptions the TV so charitably provided. …
Whatâ€™s amusing is how unamusing he is in the clip. How sour he seems. Compare him to his predecessors: Carson was all midwestern charm, with unreadable yet mannerly reserve; Steve Allen was almost as smart as he was certain you thought he must be, but he was cheerful; Parr was a nattering nutball covered with a rich creamy nougat of ego, but he was engaging. Letterman is empty; heâ€™s inert; he stands for nothing except disdain for people foolish enough to stand for anything – aside from rote obesciance to all the things Decent People stand for, of course, all those shopworn assumptions passed around in the bubble.
This posture was fresh in â€™80; it even had energy. But it paralyzes the heart after a while. You end up an SOB who shows up at the end of the night to reassure that nothing matters. I think he may have invented the posture of Nerd Cool, an aspect so familiar to anyone who reads message boards – the skill at deflating enthusiasm, puncturing passion with a hatpin lobbed from a safe distance. The instinctive unease with the wet messy energy of actual people.
Yes, reading too much into it. Really, itâ€™s just a rote slam: If your mother is a loathed politician, and your older sister gets pregnant, famous old men can make jokes about you being knocked up by rich baseball players, and thereâ€™s nothing you can do. Thatâ€™s the culture: a flat, dead-eyed, square-headed old man whoâ€™ll go back to the writers and ask for more Palin-daughter knocked-up jokes, because that one went over well. Other children he wonâ€™t touch, but not because heâ€™s decent. Itâ€™s because heâ€™s a coward.
Oh, one more thing: itâ€™s okay for David to say that because someone said something else about someone, and since I didnâ€™t write about that, Iâ€™m a hypocrite. Just so weâ€™re clear.
14 Jun 2009