MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Since he debuted on CBS 22 years ago he’s been king of Late Night.
David Letterman’s final show is Wednesday night and through it all Minnesotans helped deliver the jokes and make the music, and they even brought us some stupid pet tricks.
In August 1993, Letterman moved his Late Show to CBS and into New York’s historic Ed Sullivan theater. The stage that launched the Beatles would be Dave’s alone.
Late Show started up as our State Fair was winding down. So what better welcome gift than Dave’s bust carved in butter.
Comedian Louie Anderson was the first Minnesotan to be Dave’s guest, in September 1993.
“The thing to remember with performing in front of Dave, just like performing in front of Johnny, you wanted to kill it,” he said.
It was the first of three times Anderson killed it with laughs on Letterman.
“He was kind of an anti-interviewer,” Anderson said. “He didn’t like set-up questions, really wanted it to be different.”
Like when Letterman invited Jesse Ventura onto the show.
The governor’s joke about drunk Irish and St. Paul’s streets brought both laughs and scorn.
Jack Morris was on and it was twice for Twins manager Paul Molitor. He was MVP of the ’93 World Series.
“What can you say about that show?” Molitor said. “It’s stood the test of time. You’re a guest on that show and come out of that little tunnel and wave to Paul Shaffer. A lot of good memories.”
Then, in May 1997, Letterman flew in audiences for a special CBS promotion.
Michele McCabe was among 450 lucky Minnesotans on the all-expenses paid trip.
“My sister and I got the last two seats on the main floor,” she said.
They were showered with swag, spending money and dinner and met supporting stars like Bud, Sarajule and Rupert G.
But her biggest moment was Kirby Pucket belting out the Top 10 ways to mess up his name.
The same show featured Don and Amelia’s “Breaking News” spoofs, including one still talked about today.
“Amelia, I have a gopher in my pants and his name is Carlos,” Don Shelby famously said.
Shelby recalls it was one of several bits scattered throughout the show.
“That’s all I said and she just never laughed, it was so perfect, just like, ‘You’re an idiot,’ just as she was supposed to do,” he said.
Star Trib Media writer Neal Justin was there covering the trip.
“The show was very memorable, I think, for the people who were there and for Dave, because he’s a huge baseball fan and Kirby had just retired,” he said.
After the show came the moment Justin had waited for.
“I finally got a chance to sit down with Dave and all he could talk about was Don,” Justin said.
Dave brought us the St. Paul woman shot from a cannon and those stupid pet tricks — including Brooklyn Park’s “Rio,” a Frisbee-catching phenom.
Dave’s had many Minnesota musicians — Prince, Gear Daddies and Soul Asylum and, more recently, Trampled by Turtles and rapper Lizzo.
But in the end it was Bob Dylan who Dave invited to be his final musical guest.
But Letterman’s greatest gift to Minnesota was his Late Show’s “cloak of comfort.” No matter the dire news of the day, we’d end each night with a smile.
“Maybe what he gave us was perspective by finding things to smile and laugh at, even in our midst of troubles,” Shelby said.
Making the most appearances by a Minnesotan was Sen. Al Franken. He’s been on a total 28 times.