Letterman Would Have Picked A Woman Or Black Person To Replace Him

Erik Pendzich/REX USA
Say what you want about David Letterman’s lesser qualities, but when he leaves the Late Show on May 20, it will officially mark the end of an era. Though the decades-long host recently made waves when he fired off an inappropriate joke while warming up his pre-show crowd, in a recent interview with The New York Times he comes off as refreshingly thoughtful and candid.

Letterman admits that he can’t compete with the Fallons and Kimmels of the talk show scene, muses on his sex scandal — which he says he addressed honestly because he couldn’t come up with a good lie — and ticks off all the reasons that he’s not an especially warm person (“It’s okay to let people know you’re upset about things.”)

The almost-former host also briefly chatted about his replacement — and how uninvolved he was in the decision to hire Stephen Colbert. Letterman claims to have not been consulted, and also cops to wishing he would have been, if only as a courtesy. Had he been asked, he might have suggested Jon Stewart.  “And then I thought,” he adds, “well, maybe this will be a good opportunity to put a Black person on, and it would be a good opportunity to put a woman on. Because there are certainly a lot of funny women that have television shows everywhere.” 

Tell us something we don't know. Despite the fact that there are plenty of worthy female and racially diverse contenders, late-night talk shows have always been by and large a boys' club, and a whitewashed one at that. It’s interesting — buoying, even — to see Letterman acknowledge that it's time to get some women and people of color into this mix.

At the same time, though, there’s something about what he said in the Times that feels more than a little rote. You couldn’t have scripted a better line or sneaked it in more obviously. Don’t get us wrong — it’s good to see someone like Letterman talk about the importance of adding some new faces to the late-night comedy scene. We just wish he would have made a bigger fuss about it while he still had some pull on the matter.
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