Though we’ve never met, I feel that, through The Late Late Show, I’ve come to know you. I don’t know that I would call myself a faithful viewer of the program, but of all the choices for late night programming, I always choose yours. Mostly I watch it the next day on cbs.com. Before CBS started posting programs to the tubes of the interwebs, I’d Tivo your program and watch it when I couldn’t stay up until 12:30 AM. I always find that it appeals to my own wacky sense of humor and makes me feel better.
You may find this hard to believe, but the humor isn’t the primary thing that I take away from your show. As I said, I wouldn’t exactly call myself a faithful viewer, but I would like to think that I’m a loyal watcher. In addition to finding your brand of humor appealing, I feel that when you offer up your serious, feeling dimensions, that to some degree, you’re speaking directly to me. I first had this feeling when you eulogized your Father, and later your mother, on your show. At those times when you invited us, your viewers, into your inner game, I was moved beyond words. I wept for you as I wept when I lost my grandmother in 1996 and my grandfather in 2001. I’ll never be able to express to you how comforted I was by your realness during those two times.
While I like to think that I am a pretty optimistic person myself, I often feel that what we are offered in television is intentionally setup to appeal to the lowest common denominator so that whatever big company or glamorous product or junk food can sell more shit to people. You, on the other hand, have put together a cavalcade of recurring themes and subjects and conduct interviews in such a way that we are all invited to laugh intelligently and think critically about the world around us and the people in it. This ideal was never more poignant as when you gave the monologue stating how you were not going to engage in the same old Britney Spears jokes that your peers were doing. I remember being so impressed with the gravitas you exhibited. I don’t know for sure, but there is a small piece of me that suspects that you don’t even know how profound it was for someone in television to step in front of that camera and assume accountability for the message that was being communicated.
In that same monologue, you also bravely told “your story” to the world as only “a friend of Bill W.” can. At the time, I was partnered to a man who, at the time, was 2 years sober. I’m also the child of an alcoholic. We were watching the night that you told the story of how you’d planned to kill yourself on Christmas day and listened intently as you clarified that it wasn’t so much a drinking problem as much as it was a “thinking problem” that drove you to engage in some of your behaviors. Since that video has been posted to YouTube, all of my friends in AA and AlAnon watch it and suggest it to other people more than any story in the big book or the little book.
I wasn’t watching much television on the day of the Aurora, Colorado shooting. I don’t rightly remember what I was doing that day when that even happened. Needless to say, I didn’t catch your show that evening. I watched your preemptive monologue which you recorded hours before the show aired a couple of days ago for the first time. Again, I was absolutely floored by the incredible amounts of courage, class and gravitas you exhibited. For most of us, it would have been enough for you to have the wherewithal to simply broadcast a re-run. You, being one of the finer people on television, did the world one better by again inviting us into your inner game to grieve with you. I can’t speak for other television viewers, but I myself was honored that you would share that with your television audience.
There are lots and lots of people to whom you could be compared so far as your TV career is concerned. Honestly though, I don’t think I have the right to do that. You’re unique. You bring something to the world through the medium of television that we haven’t seen in a very very long time. Your honesty, your kind heart, your rapier wit, and your realness all seem unsurpassed in the world of television for an adult demographic.
I’ll always remember where it was I first realized you’d announced your intent to step down as the host of The Late Late Show. I had to be up early on the 29th, so I’d planned on catching the show the next day. Before going to bed though, I read on Larry King’s (@kingsthings) and Keith Olbermann’s (@KeithOlbermann) Twitter feeds that you were leaving the show in December. I retweeted Keith because I agreed with his sentiment. It was a not so great day for America on 28-April. I know, though, it will probably be harder in December. I wept a little.
That evening, it was apparent that you’d called it right. People were already making shit up. One of the first was a contributor for the online news site, mashable.com. They posted this even after you and your staff and CBS had released the wonderful article in Variety. I was so angry. While the reporter didn’t really lie, he wrote the article in such away that it would lead readers to believe that you’d left because you weren’t picked to fill Dave’s chair in 2015. I felt like a close friend of mine had been egregiously disrespected, if not defamed. But, because you set the standard you set, I left it alone…. with the exception of one small tweet to Mashable to express my displeasure with their reporting style.
So you’re going out on the top of your game. You were dragged, probably unwittingly, into a gig which was floundering a little after the comic stylings of Craig Kilborn. You made it yours, put your trademark on it and turned it into something so good that I bid God’s help whoever fills your chair next. They’ll need it. You entered the show with style and now you’re leaving it with style and grace. How cool is that?
I’m not someone who is easily star struck. When I think about whether or not I’m entertained by someone, I often catch myself asking, “I wonder what he or she is like on the other side of the camera.” I really regret that I likely won’t have the imponderable joy of meeting you. I suspect that you’re the kind of person that I would go have a coffee with. I envision that we’d sit and just chit chat about stuff and things, flotsam and jetsam, enjoying each other’s company and becoming at least good acquaintances. I like to think though, that if I lived in L.A. or if you lived in Charleston, we’d be good friends. If by some chance you’re in Charleston, South Carolina, I hope you’ll look me up though. I got a place down here. We’ll go downtown and throw some beads at people. It’s Charleston. No one will mind.
I’ll watch faithfully until December. After that, I’ll watch you on TV in other projects and I’ll think to myself, “There’s who deserves the all the television air time.” More than just a comic genius, I think you’re a pretty awesome human being. Because you’ve shared a little bit of yourself with us, it’s easier to find all the things that make it a great day in America.
Take care… and from the bottom of my heart, I thank you.
Charelston, South Carolina