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|May 15th 1992|
|Johnny Carson Interviewing David Letterman
NOTE: This was Dave's final appearance on The Tonight Show.
CARSON: Welcome, David Letterman.
(Incredibly wild applause)
(Letterman comes out and shakes hands with Johnny, Clint Eastwood and Ed McMahon)
LETTERMAN: Thank you very much.
CARSON: Isn't that nice?
LETTERMAN: You can't beat Marines on leave. Thank you. Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, let me get this straight.
CARSON: David, David, David.
LETTERMAN: You've been on the air 30 years, you're down to your last week, five shows --
LETTERMAN: -- and you spend 20 minutes of that time talking to that guy about his cat!
CARSON: That's right, and if you stay on another 20, you'll be talking to the cat!
LETTERMAN: And Clint, Clint, Clint, one night, one night, Clint, would it have killed you one night to wear a tie? I don't
(Cheers and boos)
You know, it's a big deal. Why not? It's not a barbeque.
EASTWOOD: They're booing you. They're booing you.
CARSON: What is this, a Friars Roast you're doing all of a sudden? It's nice of you to come out here.
LETTERMAN: Thank you very much. I feel great.
CARSON: Do you really?
LETTERMAN: Yeah. Top physical condition of my life and psychologically I have peace of mind. Before the show I got to
a pay phone, I called my house in Connecticut, there was no answer, and I think that's always a good sign. That's always
a good sign.
(Carson totally cracks up)
CARSON: I wasn't going to touch on that, but since you brought it up, that is scary too. That's scary.
LETTERMAN: Oh, sure it's scary.
CARSON: Good Lord. A real fan.
LETTERMAN: I could give her directions to your house, Mr. Free Time.
CARSON: You got it. Well, maybe I'll come out to New York and hang out with you a little bit.
LETTERMAN: Oh, yeah, please do.
LETTERMAN: You know, that brings up an interesting point.
CARSON: All right. What is that?
LETTERMAN: Let me get into this.
LETTERMAN: Here's what I'm getting a lot. I'm getting a lot of this, "Are you gonna miss Johnny? Are you gonna miss
Johnny? Am I gonna miss Johnny? Are you gonna miss Johnny?"
CARSON: It's boring, I know.
LETTERMAN: "Are your folks gonna miss Johnny? Is your clergyman gonna miss Johnny? Is Darryl Gates gonna miss
Johnny? Are the Dodgers gonna miss Johnny?" I think there's another perspective to consider.
LETTERMAN: All right. First of all, you're not passing away.
CARSON: That's right.
LETTERMAN: You're still funny.
CARSON: Thank you.
LETTERMAN: You're vibrant, you're charming, energetic, entertaining, a very nice guy.
LETTERMAN: Ed, Ed, pick up a pointer or two. I don't know what that means.
CARSON: Now, you see, you caught me off guard because I thought, ah-oh, he's setting it up and you're gonna take swerve
to the right and do a joke, and you didn't.
LETTERMAN: Yeah. Okay, so you're alive, you're healthy. You're a very entertaining man.
CARSON: Energetic, vibrant, all of that, right.
LETTERMAN: You're not going to prison, like many of our top Hollywood stars.
CARSON: That's true.
LETTERMAN: You're still gonna be in show business.
CARSON: I hope so.
LETTERMAN: You're gonna be on television.
CARSON: I hope so.
LETTERMAN: I have a show. You could be on my show.
CARSON: That's true.
(Audience applauds wildly)
CARSON: Can I ask you a question?
LETTERMAN: You could be a guest. You could be a guest host. Come to think of it, you can have the damn thing. Why not? Things ain't that great.
CARSON: You're still pissed, huh?
LETTERMAN: Hey, hey.
CARSON: Chomping at the bit there.
(Audience applauds wildly)
CARSON: Look, about guesting on your show, do you pay what we do, same fee?
LETTERMAN: Yeah, I believe so.
CARSON: Then forget it. I won't work for that kind of money.
LETTERMAN: I think what people have to keep in mind now in considering this is the achievement, 30 years nightly
entertainment, dominating television and becoming a significant fixture in American culture. That's, I think, what we have to
keep in mind here. Now, nightly entertainment, sure, I know the last 10, 12 years, what was it, like one night a week? But
that still does not diminish --
CARSON: You couldn't go straight through with it, could you? You couldn't go straight through with it.
LETTERMAN: And then what people want to know regarding Ed, and it's none of my business, but I hear this, and you
saved your money, right?
ED McMAHON: Oh, yeah.
LETTERMAN: There you go. So it's a happy ending for everybody.
CARSON: You asked me one day, you're kidding about the frequent vacations, and that's true, but you asked me on our
show one night when we first started this show, and a lot of people didn't remember this, we went on in New York City live
at 11:15 in the morning -- at night -- and we went until 1:00 o'clock in the morning, an hour and 45 minutes every single
night of the week, and I want to tell 'ya after a couple of years, you are blinking a lot.
LETTERMAN: There's 15 minutes there.
CARSON: Authors would be coming in, you know, here's Mrs. Potty Klosnick to talk about 18 ways to make lasagna. I mean, you would go for anything.
LETTERMAN: We still use her.
CARSON: Do you really?
CARSON: You don't throw anything away. It's like a slaughter house; you don't throw anything; you use everything.
LETTERMAN: You keep everything you can.
CARSON: So what else is new in your life? Did you just fly out here? Did you just get in town?
LETTERMAN: Yeah, I just got in town yesterday. You know, this is funny. It occurs to me when I heard Clint was going to
be on the show -- he and I met years and years ago -- and I'm not sure if he remembers this.
CARSON: From the look on his face, he doesn't.
LETTERMAN: I was doing stand-up comedy.
EASTWOOD: I'm still working on the tie part, but I know you've got the gym socks. You've still got the gym socks.
(Audience hoots and cheers)
LETTERMAN: I could take him. This is turning into a nightmare. Come on. All right. Let's go. Come on.
(Letterman stands up and challenges Clint Eastwood to a fight)
CARSON: You live by the sword; you die by the sword. So you met where?
LETTERMAN: We met at the Comedy Store. I was doing stand-up comedy there. This was like the mid or late 70's.
EASTWOOD: I guess a couple years before you started your show back east.
LETTERMAN: Yeah, that's right, and I remember everybody was very excited, because Clint drove up in -- it looked like an
old police car, an unmarked car. Remember that? A big gray Plymouth, the one that had the big huge engine.
LETTERMAN: And Clint would --
EASTWOOD: I thought you were going to say something else.
LETTERMAN: No. It was a great car. It was a beautiful old -- no hub caps, no marks on it, but the thing was powerful
and fast and nasty looking.
LETTERMAN: And so Clint would come in, and we'd be very excited because we were just beginners, and you want to
impress the important guy in the audience, so I was up there doing my little -- I don't know what the hell I was doing -- and
I'm on stage, and I get off, and I'm very nervous, and I go to the back of the club where everybody kind of hangs out, and
now you just -- you want to wait and see what's going on. And after about five minutes here comes Clint Eastwood, and you
see Clint Eastwood coming out of the lights in the club, you know, and he's very imposing. He's a tall man. Well, he's right
here. You can see for yourself.
CARSON: You can measure him if you want to.
LETTERMAN: I don't know what's the matter with me. And I've got my back up against the wall, and he walks right up to
me. And do you have any idea what you said to me?
LETTERMAN: Oh, it was unbelievable. So I'm standing right like this, and he comes up to me, and he says "Where's the
men's room, punk?" I carried that with me.
CARSON: I think those are the moments you treasure.
LETTERMAN: He's pissed. Now he's pissed.
CARSON: Those are the moments you treasure. Now, we have to just do -- sell a little something here, and then we'll return to our little Harlequin Aids. So stay where you are.
CARSON: What else do you want to talk about? Anything else?
LETTERMAN: I mentioned coming out here last night. It seems to me that something always odd transpires on the trip
coming out here, and this is a little experiment for me, a little story, a little reminder of how people who seem odd, if you're sensing some oddness about a person, 99 percent of the time it will turn out that they are odd. Yesterday I left New York
City, flew out here Delta, "We love to fly and it shows." I hate those airlines that are just in it for the money. I just -- that's
kind of a rolling laugh.
CARSON: Yes, it is.
LETTERMAN: And we get on the plane and the people couldn't be nicer, the service is great, and it's clean and I'm relaxed
and I'm happy, and a woman sits down next to me, and she is nondescript is the only way I can describe her, just
doesn't -- there's nothing significantly strange or unusual or interesting about the woman.
CARSON: Bland, bland.
LETTERMAN: Now, when this happens, and I'm going to be on a long flight, I take defensive measures. I'll usually look
right at the person, get them right in the eyes, and I'll say to them, (dumb guy impression) "Think we'll see any flying
saucers?" They'll leave me alone. But before this could happen, the woman says to me, "Wow, I am really hungry," and I think this is odd, and I said to her, "Well, you've certainly come to the right place." This is not exactly a Red Lobster we're in, you know, it's an airplane. And so everything is fine, and they bring around the menus, and she's looking at it, and she says,
"Oh, man, now I'm getting even hungrier." And I said, "Well, you can't beat flying for really working up quite an appetite,"
and I said to her, "Ma'am, is it safe to say that the hunger is on 'ya like a fever?" And she says, "Well, yes." So now what I've done, I've diagnosed in my head, made the diagnosis, tape worm. That's what I'm thinking. So she's perusing the menu --
CARSON: Right in front of you?
LETTERMAN: Yeah, looking over the menu. Now, you know in airplanes above the passenger seat, you have that little
console thing, and you have like three air vents, and you'll have a couple buttons, one for the light and one for the
stewardess or the flight attendant "call" button. Now, you hit that and a bell goes off someplace, and the flight attendant
will come to see if you need any kind of help. All right. So she's sitting there, and she's looking over the menu, and she's just about ready to go, and she puts it down, puts the menu down. This is like an hour into the flight. She stands up, she's kind
of half crouched, she presses the flight attendant button, she puts her face about that far from the air nozzle (indicating three
or four inches), and she says, "I'll have the chicken diablo, I'd like the garden salad with the french dressing and coffee."
(Carson cracks up)
LETTERMAN: What the hell is that? I don't know. Are people nuts? I've never seen anything like that.
CARSON: This lady, it must have been the first time.
LETTERMAN: No. She seemed like a seasoned traveler.
CARSON: Well, obviously not too well seasoned, not well done anyway. When you came on here in the early years, you
used to talk about -- I hate to bring this up, because the same thing might have happened to your dog that happened to
Condoli's cat -- your dog Bob --
LETTERMAN: No. My dog is 40 now.
CARSON: You talked about that dog a lot, Bob.
LETTERMAN: Yeah. Bob passed away.
CARSON: I didn't know that. I'm sorry.
LETTERMAN: Well, it's a long time ago. That's what happens with pets. They bring you a lot of joy and a lot of happiness
while they're around.
CARSON: Yes, they do.
LETTERMAN: But, yeah, I used to talk a lot about Bob, because I loved the animal the way pet owners love their animals. He was a -- I remember I told you on the show he was a rare breed. He was a Belgian airhead.
CARSON: Belgian airhead. I do remember that. But lovable.
LETTERMAN: And I was thinking about that the other day, and there was one summer about five or six years ago in
Connecticut, and it was hotter than hell, just unbelievably hot, and when it gets hot back east and in the Midwest there's
also that oppressive humidity. So I get up early, and I don't know what to do, so I think I better clean out the refrigerator,
get rid of the perishables, you know, and I come across a two-pound load of ground beef, and you could tell that -- you
know, if I was a doctor I'd want to run tests on it. It had gone. So I just, okay, let's get rid of that. And I go out and
I run some errands, and I come home, and there's Bob kind of sitting around the house, and I see the wrapper for the two pounds of ground beef there on the kitchen floor, and I think, oh, my God. The damn dog has ingested two pounds of
rotten beef. And so right away I called the vet, and I tell him what has happened, and the vet says, "Well, you know,
dogs have cast iron constitutions," and, oh, I'm breathing a sigh of relief now. But then he says what vets will always
say to you, he says, "Yeah, but, you know, if it was my dog, I'd want to get that beef out of him." And I said, "Great,
I'll bring him right over," you know, and he says, "Well, sorry. We're closed. But you can do something. You can get it out yourself." And I think, oh, what is this, surgery in the garage? He says, "Give him some hydrogen peroxide and it
will bring it all up." He said, "Give him two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide and everything will be fine." So me and Bob
go out into the yard, and I got the hydrogen peroxide and I got the tablespoons right here, I got Bob in a headlock, and I'm
ready to pour the hydrogen peroxide, and for the next 90 minutes it's collegiate wrestling. Oh, it's almost a pin, there's an
escape, there's a take-down. The dog won't drink the hydrogen peroxide, so I go back inside and I pour out the contents of a bottle of Windex with the big pump sprayer on it, I pour the hydrogen peroxide in the bottle, and I get a good one on him,
and I squirt about a quart of that stuff down Bob. So now I'm like a tourist at Old Faithful, you know, I'm thinking, do I have time to go to the car to get the camera? I don't know. It's gonna blow any second here. I don't want to miss this. And finally,
it works, unbelievably, and there it is, there's the ground beef, and it looks just almost like it did earlier in the day,
except now it's got quite a head on it now.
CARSON: That's a great story. We'll be right back. Stay where you are.
CARSON: Moving along with this bombastic review. Okay, tomorrow night on NBC at 9:30, this next gentleman has a
special called Bob Hope America, Red, White And Blue.
(Interview with Bob Hope deleted)
CARSON: We are out of time. Tomorrow night, 11:30 on NBC from Columbus, Ohio, Bob Hope Special. Thanks for being
here tonight, Bob. I appreciate it.
HOPE: Happy to be here.
CARSON: David --
LETTERMAN: Yes, sir.
CARSON: Thank you much.
LETTERMAN: Thank you.
CARSON: I'll come back and see you in New York.
LETTERMAN: Thank you for my career.
CARSON: Clint, thanks for being here.
About a year later in an interview, this is what David Letterman said about this encounter with Clint Eastwood:
"He's so smart. I was on The Tonight Show with him about a week before Johnny Carson retired, and I made some remark
about his clothes. He dresses like whatever came into Goodwill today. So I said, 'You! Mr. Movie Star! You could
have worn a tie!' So Clint looks at me and says something like, 'Nice socks,' and gets a huge laugh. So I stand up and
challenge him to a fight. I thought, 'This is great! Me, a 180-pound scared, wimpy ninny, and now I'm calling out Clint
Eastwood on national television! Wouldn't it be great if he just stood up and dropped me! Boom! There you go, funny
boy.' He's so cool. I just loved 'Unforgiven,' especially the end; he kills like 7000 people, then moves to San Francisco
to open a grocery store, as if to say, 'Let's just leave this unpleasantness behind.'"
Also, in another interview Letterman had this to say about his appearances on the Johnny Carson show:
"Look," he continues, "when you come out to be on a show, it's not an homage, it's not a newspaper interview.
You're there to show people why they oughta spend seven-and-a-half bucks for your new movie,
or watch your show on TV. Even I did it. When I'd go on The Tonight Show, I'd spend weeks writing anecdotes, working
on stories. It's not easy. And it's not fun. But it's what is important. You owe it to the people watching."
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