David Letterman recently sat down with his old friend Norm Macdonald to shoot the breeze and discuss the current state of the late-night game.
In a rare public interview, the retired host of “The Late Show” appeared on the third-season premiere of Macdonald’s video podcast “Norm Macdonald Live,” where the pair chatted about life, comedy, and late-night talk shows.
Macdonald brought up the current abundance of late night hosts, asking Letterman whether he thinks these shows are all following the same template. “At one point, there was two shows: The 11:30 p.m. show and the 12:30 a.m. show, Johnny Carson and David Letterman,” the “Saturday Night Live” alum said. “Now, there are one-hundred Johnny Carsons and no David Letterman. I mean, there are one-hundred 11:30 p.m. shows. The shows are indistinct.”
“I don’t know, perhaps,” the late night legend answered, before remarking that ultimately “you’re bound by the pressure of who is writing the checks.” The two comedians later praised Conan O’Brien for bringing something new to the talk show formula on TBS.
When asked about why he titled his show “The Late Show With David Letterman,” as opposed to “starring David Letterman,” Letterman admitted that he’d have been embarrassed referring to himself as a star. “I could not possibly, and still don’t, consider myself a star, because I couldn’t refer to myself as a star,” he said. “Johnny Carson was a star, there’s no question of that. So for me to adopt Starring Dave Letterman — that was just ridiculous.”
“In the same way, I always cringe a little when people refer to the folks who watch their show as their “fans” – you kind of step over the line of basic humility there,” he continued. “So to call myself a star didn’t go.”
On the topic of whether or not he’ll ever return to the late night circuit, Letterman made his answer very clear: “I’ve done it for 30 years. I don’t want to do it anymore.”
“Norm Macdonald Live” started in 2013 and is now in its third season. You can watch the Letterman interview in the video above.