James Lileks, an early David Letterman fan (though weren’t we all?) buries Dave’s sclerotic latest incarnation:
This posture was fresh in ’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, it’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 there’s nothing you can do. That’s the culture: a flat, dead-eyed, square-headed old man who’ll go back to the writers and ask for more Palin-daughter knocked-up jokes, because that one went over well. Other children he won’t touch, but not because he’s decent. It’s because he’s a coward.
Oh, one more thing: it’s okay for David to say that because someone said something else about someone, and since I didn’t write about that, I’m a hypocrite. Just so we’re clear.
Well, one more thing. Some say Dave – I’m sorry, the staff members who wrote the joke and had it printed on cards for him to read – thought the daughter in attendance was the older one who had the pregnancy controversy last year. This is possible; it also means that we accept as an excuse the fact that the writers confused the daughters they wished to humiliate.
That confusion must be the reason the NYT left the joke out of its transcript of the monologue.
One more thing: the monologue contained an Angela Lansbury joke. Dude is OUT THERE.
Then again, there’s always Conan O’Brien, who thinks African-Americans are persona incognita in Wisconsin.
These guys don’t get out much, do they?
I’ve always used the first — and very funny — Airplane! movie in 1980 as the demarcation point for the arrival of the Nonheroic Age of Irony and all of its incumbent nihilistic hilarity. Does Letterman’s obscelecence (and the 2006 moment capsulized here to me seemed to signify the beginning of the end) also means that irony’s end is at hand (at least in relation to late night TV)?
So will there be a post-ironic age, and if so, what will it — or at least its humor — be like?