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|June 23rd 1995|
|Jon Stewart Interviewing David Letterman
STEWART: Ladies and gentlemen, let's move along. Like myself, my first guest hosts a late night talk show, but unlike
me, he has to get up bright and early Monday morning. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome David Letterman.
(Standing ovation and loud, loud, loud applause)
LETTERMAN: How are 'ya. How do you do. Hi, Jon. This is a great place.
STEWART: You can have any of this stuff you want. Please have a seat.
LETTERMAN: Thank you very much. Hi. How are 'ya.
STEWART: Even Howard stood.
LETTERMAN: Boy, oh, boy. I wanna tell 'ya, this is very nice. What do you want for the place?
STEWART: Oh, let's see. That hurts. Oh, man.
LETTERMAN: I'm telling you something, as nervous and concerned and anxiety ridden as you may be --
STEWART: Yes, sir.
LETTERMAN: -- This is more pressure than I've endured recently in my adult life. If I screw this up, this is your last show,
and this is all you'll think about until you work again.
STEWART: See 'ya in '98, I would guess.
LETTERMAN: On the other hand, of course, I'll be over it by Sunday.
STEWART: It is a pleasure to see you. Thanks so much for coming by and joining us on the show.
LETTERMAN: I can't thank you enough for inviting me, because I know what this is. I've been through this myself,
and I appreciate the invitation, and I am happy in some small way to lend my presence to the celebration.
STEWART: Well, I'll tell you how you can help here. Let's say you decided to stop doing your show.
STEWART: I know there's plenty you'd miss about doing the show.
STEWART: I need to hear the negatives though. I need to hear you say what you wouldn't miss at all, what you wouldn't care
to ever see again about doing your show so I have something to think about.
LETTERMAN: What have you heard about me stopping the show?
STEWART: Nothing, it's nothing. It's just my uncle, Mr. Tisch, and I were having breakfast.
LETTERMAN: Hello. Testing. Well, you know what it is. You know this, and people who have great satisfying rewarding jobs know this. Sometimes what you love the most also provides you with the most pain, and I gotta tell you, just here recently I'm kind of getting tired of reading about myself in the paper.
LETTERMAN: Yeah, just a little bit, and I was thinking about it when you invited me over here, and you've been pretty
fortunate, because people like you, they like the show, and so you get to read a lot of nice things. Years and years ago there
was -- and still is -- a guy named James Wolcott, who at the time wrote for, I think, New York Magazine, and he's a great
writer and very entertaining, and I always enjoyed this guy's work, but for some reason -- well, not for some reason, because
he enjoys doing it -- he would just beat the hell out of me every two or three years, just ba-boom, just poof me.
LETTERMAN: So one day New York Magazine comes, and I'm looking through it, and there's a review of the old show we
did at NBC, and I'm telling 'ya, it just went on and on, "He's ugly. He stinks. He has no talent. His clothes suck," boom
boom boom boom boom. It's one of those things where you lay it on the desk and just kind of dance around it. You read a
paragraph and, whew, you go to a neutral corner.
(Dave does some shadow boxing)
STEWART: And slam it again, sure.
LETTERMAN: So I'm reading this, and in the back of your mind you're always looking for ways to kind of excuse yourself
from the problem and the pain that you're going to endure.
LETTERMAN: And so you always think to yourself, "All right, it's awful, it's horrible, he hates me, but the good news is in a week it will be off the stands," and that's how you get through that.
LETTERMAN: So I closed the magazine. Right across the cover there's a big slash-banner headline, and it says, "100 year Brooklyn Bridge Anniversary Souvenir Edition. Save it. Show it to your grandkids. Share it with generations to come."
STEWART: Make wallpaper out of it.
LETTERMAN: And then there was my favorite review of the show of all of the shows I've ever done -- I don't even know
the publication -- big headlines, huge review of the show, and it says, "The David Letterman Show Is Like Garbage. . . It
Stinks." Not that it's fly larvae-infested, not that it's runny and wet, no, no. It's like garbage in that it stinks.
STEWART: It stinks.
LETTERMAN: It couldn't be enough that it's just like garbage. They have to supply the missing element.
STEWART: It hurts, doesn't it?
LETTERMAN: And the other thing if I was to walk away that I would not miss -- and maybe you go through this -- at our
show every night right after the show, you know how it is, the audience comes up to the office and uses the bathroom. I
hate that. I'm so tired of that.
STEWART: Terrible thing.
LETTERMAN: I wish they'd go home or something.
STEWART: No, that's why we don't have one here. You just can't use it that way. But it must be difficult to read about that,
because someone had told me -- I had heard that you had something to do with the oscars. I didn't read anything.
LETTERMAN: Hey, don't screw with me, all right, pal?
STEWART: I would never. But again, those are the difficult experiences. I don't mind the reviews, because I never learned
how to read, but for me, like the oscars, what was that experience like to go through it and to be that focused by the world?
LETTERMAN: Well, you know what it was, I went out there, and we did the show, I did the show, and you're done with it,
and you think, hey, I'm done with it.
LETTERMAN: And then you come home and you start reading about it, and you realize, oh my God, I've screwed up the
Academy Awards, and my first reaction was guilt and remorse, and I thought, you know, if they wanted, they could arrest
me. I screwed up the Academy Awards.
STEWART: Is that a violation now?
LETTERMAN: They could arrest me. So I took a couple of days, and then I thought, all right, I screwed up the academy
awards; I don't care. And now, I screwed up the academy awards, and I couldn't be more proud. Thank you very much.
STEWART: Congratulations to you.
(Hoots and applause)
LETTERMAN: Yes, I've come a long way.
STEWART: A man who speaks out.
LETTERMAN: I feel much better.
STEWART: We've got to take a commercial break. We're coming back with more David Letterman right after this, please.
STEWART: Welcome back, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome back to the show. I'm here with Dave Letterman. Exciting news.
I'm his new side kick. Hey, everybody.
LETTERMAN: Yes, sir.
(Hoots and applause)
LETTERMAN: Let me just say one thing. You're a smart man. You understand this. The people who watch this show are
smart. The folks here in the studio audience are, well -- cancellation -- now, I'm gonna tell you something -- You know
cancellation should not be confused with failure.
LETTERMAN: Yes, sir.
STEWART: Thank you very much. I appreciate that. My father said almost the same thing, but in reverse. For you, what
do you think, other than Drew Barrymore obviously taking off her sweater --
LETTERMAN: Oh, man.
STEWART: -- what has been the coolest thing that's happened to you while you've done your show?
LETTERMAN: Well, you know, you'd think being in show business, or as close to it as I've come, you ought to have a
lot of cool things happen to you.
LETTERMAN: And I've thought about this and thought about this, and currently I've distilled it now down to the
persona of Paul Newman. I have been lucky enough to meet Paul Newman, and I just want to tell you, this guy is the real deal.
LETTERMAN: He is solid gold, he's a great actor, he's a wonderful guy, and just an interesting fellow. I met him, I don't
know, five or six years ago. Some friends introduced me. It was at a race in Phoenix. It was Bobby Rahal, who is a race
driver, and his wife Debbie, and now, of course, I sound like Dick Cavett. "Gregory Peck was there as well and Jimmie Stewart," and on and on.
STEWART: And Groucho and all the rest.
LETTERMAN: Yes, sir. And so they introduced me to Paul Newman, and you're carrying on a conversation. "How do you do?
I enjoy your popcorn and Cool Hand Luke." That's what you're saying to Paul Newman.
LETTERMAN: In your head all you can hear is this huge voice screaming, "Oh, my God, it's Paul Newman. Oh, my God,
it's Paul Newman." So I've been lucky enough to kind of have -- I guess it's a friendship. I won't say we're really good
friends, but we have kind of a relationship, and he's called me from time to time. About six months ago -- and this is where
it starts to get cool --
STEWART: All right.
LETTERMAN: -- Paul Newman calls up and he says, "Dave," he says, "I'm thinking about getting me a Volvo station wagon,
and I'm gonna stuff a Ford 302 V-8 engine into it."
LETTERMAN: "This engine is about the size of a small piano, so we're going to have to push back the fire wall. Do you
want one?" So, you know, I'm thinking a Volvo station wagon looks like something you'd make in metal shop, and if you
want something really sporty you get a bakery truck, and every time you see a Volvo station wagon in the back it's three kids
getting car sick on a golden retriever, and I'm thinking these cars are so safe because in traffic other motorists slow down
to check out how ugly they are.
STEWART: Right, the tank.
LETTERMAN: So intellectually I don't want a Volvo station wagon, but, of course, internally it's Paul Newman, I say, "Yes,
I'd like one."
STEWART: "Bring it on."
LETTERMAN: "Paul, let me have that Volvo station wagon."
STEWART: Sure. Me too.
LETTERMAN: So I'm aware of the fact in talking to Paul, he's far more excited about this than I am. He calls up from time to time and he says, "Have you picked out the interior yet?" And I said, "No, I haven't." He said, "Well, you better hurry.
The dollar's falling." And I don't know what that means.
STEWART: No, he's very concerned about the world economics.
LETTERMAN: And then he calls up after that and he says, "Good news. Pirelli's gonna give us free tires." "Wow, that's great, Paul." It's Paul Newman. We're getting free tires. I don't know. So he calls two weeks ago, and he says, "Dave, the cars are ready. We got two, one for me, one for you." He says, "Everything is ready to go. I've got to ask you a question. Do you want
a puffer on yours?" You know, and I'm thinking, well, is that like a special inflatable seat? I don't know. Like sails on this
Volvo? And I said, "Well, Paul, are you getting a puffer on yours?" And Paul says, "Yeah, yeah, I'm getting a puffer on mine." And I said, "You know, I have no idea." And he says, "It's a supercharger. I said, "A supercharger?" He says, "Now you have
to be very careful, because with this supercharger this thing will turn about 400 horsepower, so if you pop the clutch you're gonna tear up the rear end." By comparison, a stock showroom Corvette, 300 horsepower.
LETTERMAN: I say to Paul, "Now wait a minute. Paul, I have a Volvo station wagon, 400 horsepower?" And he says, "Oh, yeah," he says, "from 20 to a hundred you can chew anybody's ass." And I'm thinking to myself, what circumstance
would Paul find himself in driving around in a Volvo station wagon where he feels like he's gotta chew somebody's ass?
(Hoots and applause)
STEWART: I don't know. I can see that's very nice though.
LETTERMAN: A 400 horsepower Volvo station wagon.
STEWART: But when Paul Newman offers you a puffer, I mean, you take it. You don't turn down Paul Newman.
LETTERMAN: You'd be a fool to pass on the puffer.
STEWART: It's been such a pleasure just sitting here listening to you talk, and I just want to tell you how much I admire your show now and the morning show that you did and everything else you've done. The Morning Show especially was always,
when I was in college watching it, was one of the --
LETTERMAN: Oh, knock off the bullshit.
STEWART: All right. Look, if I'm going to be sliding you my resume, I gotta butter you up.
LETTERMAN: You know, you mentioned the morning show, and earlier tonight on our show -- today coincidentally in an
odd way, 15 years ago, June 23rd, 1980, was the first day of my Morning Show at NBC, and it did not last as long as your
show here has lasted.
STEWART: Oh, I'm so sorry.
LETTERMAN: And on tonight's show we showed some videotape of the very first show, and when I heard that I was
going to be on the program, I wondered if in some way it might be of use to you to show you, since this is your last show --
LETTERMAN: -- some videotape of my last morning show. I am not necessarily proud of this.
LETTERMAN: I have not seen it. I cannot look at it. It troubles me to watch.
STEWART: We can turn that around.
LETTERMAN: It has never been seen to my knowledge since its original airing late in the summer of 1980. So just take a
look at this, and I'm not saying it's great, I'm not saying I'm happy about it. I'm just saying I lived through it.
STEWART: All right. Here we go. Let's take a look. The Morning Show, ladies and gentlemen.
LETTERMAN: Monday there's going to be a show here called -- it's called Las Vegas Gambit, and you're gonna be hearing a
lot of these things.
(Loud annoying buzzer sound)
Now here to sing a visual tribute to that show, Harv Mann, ladies and gentlemen, in our salute to Las Vegas gambling.
(A lounge lizard type guy starts singing and some dancers come out dressed in large playing cards)
STEWART: That was very moving.
LETTERMAN: You know, I think I might have had a puffer on my hair. Anyway, I lived through it. I've done pretty well
STEWART: Very well.
LETTERMAN: And I know the same is in store for you.
STEWART: Well, I really appreciate it, and I appreciate your coming by. It means so much to us.
LETTERMAN: Thank you very much. I enjoyed myself.
STEWART: Ladies and gentlemen, David Letterman.
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