Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night

New York Times comedy critic Jason Zinoman delivers the definitive story of the life and artistic legacy of David Letterman, the greatest television talk show host of all time and the signature comedic voice of a generation.In a career spanning than thirty years, David Letterman redefined the modern talk show with an ironic comic style that transcended traditional telNew York Times comedy critic Jason Zinoman delivers the definitive story of the life and artistic legacy of David Letterman, the greatest television talk show host of all time and the signature comedic voice of a generation.In a career spanning than thirty years, David Letterman redefined the modern talk show with an ironic comic style that transcended traditional television While he remains one of the most famous stars in America, he is a remote, even reclusive, figure whose career is widely misunderstood In Letterman, Jason Zinoman, the first comedy critic in the history of the New York Times, mixes groundbreaking reporting with unprecedented access and probing critical analysis to explain the unique entertainer s titanic legacy Moving from his early days in Indiana to his retirement, Zinoman goes behind the scenes of Letterman s television career to illuminate the origins of his revolutionary comedy, its overlooked influences, and how his work intersects with and reveals his famously eccentric personality.Zinoman argues that Letterman had three great artistic periods, each distinct and part of his evolution As he examines key broadcasting moments Stupid Pet Tricks and other captivating segments that defined Late Night with David Letterman he illuminates Letterman s relationship to his writers, and in particular, the show s co creator, Merrill Markoe, with whom Letterman shared a long professional and personal connection.To understand popular culture today, it s necessary to understand David Letterman With this revealing biography, Zinoman offers a perceptive analysis of the man and the artist whose ironic voice and caustic meta humor was critical to an entire generation of comedians and viewers and whose singular style ushered in new tropes that have become clich s in comedy today.
Letterman The Last Giant of Late Night New York Times comedy critic Jason Zinoman delivers the definitive story of the life and artistic legacy of David Letterman the greatest television talk show host of all time and the signature comedi

  • Title: Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night
  • Author: Jason Zinoman
  • ISBN: 9780062377210
  • Page: 305
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 1 thought on “Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night”

    1. Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night by Jason Zinoman is a 2017 Harper publication. It has been nearly three years since ‘The Late Show with David Letterman’ went off the air. For some reason, it seems a lot longer than that.When I saw this book, it struck me that, I really didn't know all that much about him personally, save for the big sex and blackmail scandal he admitted to on the air, and his infamous stalker. I hoped this book would give me a little insight into Letterman’s life, [...]

    2. In this overview of Letterman's professional tenure, the author - Jason Zinoman - covers Letterman's entire career, starting when Letterman was a DJ on a college radio station, through his morning TV show, to his late night shows. Letterman was always plagued with insecurities, which were instrumental in shaping his comedy. Letterman incorporated his discomfort with people into his skits and guest interviews, and was sometimes impatient or dismissive (or even hostile) to celebrities if they were [...]

    3. David Letterman has always been my favorite talk show host. I loved his originality and his snarkiness. It was always obvious he did not suffer fools gladly. I've read some other books about him and his TV shows, but I have to say that this one, hands down, is the best so far. It takes the reader through a brief history of his life and career before he became mega famous as a talk show host and then concentrates elaborately on each of the shows he helmed. There's never been another one like him. [...]

    4. Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night by Jason Zinoman is a highly recommended biography for anyone who was a fan of Letterman. Zinoman looks at the legacy left by Letterman's career which spanned more than thirty years, beginning with his college broadcasting career, to Late Night with David Letterman, the Late Show with David Letterman, and up to his retirement in 2015. Rather than focusing extensively on his personal life, which is mentioned as it relates to his career, this account concent [...]

    5. One of the best celebrity biographies ever. More of an autopsy of a talk show.I can't review this right now.This is as perfect as it gets as far as show-biz bios go.I'll try to write more later.Jason Zinoman is brilliant.That simple.

    6. I'm not really a fan of any celebrity or entertainer, but I love David Letterman. This book provides a balanced and honest look at his Midwestern beginnings, his polarizing comedic genius, his emotional obstacles, his personal failings, and his steady disinterest in hosting a talk show Letterman would probably hate every page of it. But as a fan, I found it fascinating and now I understand the person nearly as much as I adore the television legend.

    7. New York Times comedy critic Zinoman (Shock Value) dissects comedian David Letterman and his legendary television run, taking readers from Letterman's Muncie, IN, college radio days through his seminal work at NBC to his star-studded retirement show decades later on CBS. Here Letterman is presented as an iconoclast who grew from mocking talk show clichés to representing the format as an elder statesman. Along the way we meet the writers and cast members who shaped the show, explore the origins [...]

    8. Not so much a biography of Letterman the man as it is an exploration of Letterman the comedian. Zinoman is interested in the nuts and bolts of comedy; he examines why Late Night was so ground-breaking and magical and why the Late Show was relatively lackluster. Zinoman is no propagandist, painting Dave as a prickly, somewhat miserable man, and yet as I read the book, my love for Dave only grew, and I found myself hating Jay Leno all over again.

    9. I've been a fan of David Letterman since the beginning. I liked his snarky irreverence to the world, his sarcasm, his deadpan delivery. Jumping into vats of jello, wearing a Velcro suit and throwing himself against the Velcro wall. All the stupid pet tricks, watermelons thrown off the roof, every silly trick to fill time. It was a little more difficult to love him in the early 90's but a fan is a fan. This book is a great read if you are one. Only distraction is all the crap going on backstage, [...]

    10. I occasionally watched David Letterman’s show when I started my study in Canada back in mid 90’s. He was the first English language talk show host I’ve ever watched back then and I could barely understand thirty percent of what he was talking about. Naturally he left me an unforgettable memory. This book is an unbelievably candid one, if compared to other biographies. David is a reclusive, eccentric and serious person, which surprised me to say the least. How can an introvert person have c [...]

    11. A great dive into the history of David Letterman, Zinoman has done some above-and-beyond research and interviewing to really get to arc of Letterman's career.The highlight for me was the way in which Zinoman dissects the comedy bits. I especially loved the section devoted to Hal Gurnee's innovative camera work as another way into a joke. Absolutely wonderfuld speaks to the trust needed to on all levels for a production to improvise and grow.Trust is a word not used that often in the book though. [...]

    12. I have loved Letterman for decades and have watched every show he did (including the innovative but ill-conceived morning show in 1980). Zinoman is also clearly a fan and the result is a curious book. Zinoman, wisely, stays away from Letterman's personal life for the most part. There are the scandals and stories we all know about - the cheating on his wife, the brief and rarely discussed first marriage, his heart attack etc - but the focus here is squarely on Letterman the broadcaster. Zinoman's [...]

    13. My wife got an Advanced Reading Copy of this book at ALA in Atlanta.I highly recommend this book for a detailed look at David Letterman's career. It covers him from the beginning up to his retirement - with a focus mainly on the comedy and tone of the show and how it changed over the years. The focus is more the comedy aspect and the interviews. If you are looking for information on other topics, for example the many talented singers and musicians that have appeared on the show over the years, t [...]

    14. Fantastic biography of the greatest talk show host of all time - David Letterman! The book goes through it all, his highs and lows, his self esteem issues, his triumphs on television. Zinoman writes a compelling narrative, his "Shock Value" was just as engrossing. I loved this book!

    15. As a long time Letterman fan - I really enjoyed this book and traveling down memory lane and remembering old episodes and characters. What wasn't as enjoyable was reading about the neurotic and insecure side of Dave. I knew or suspected a lot of it - but it was more sad than I anticipated to learn more of the details.

    16. I read this book upon recommendation and because I grew up an enormous Letterman fan. Not only was it boring as sin, it was painful to experience all the disillusionment that comes when you realize your "favorite" is a creep.

    17. I was a Letterman fan from the era of velcro suits, stupid pet tricks, and canned hams. I saw him through the late night wars, bi-pass surgery and infidelity. Sometimes I thought he was cruel, sometimes brilliant. This bio gives me insight into all aspects of Letterman’s personality that produced the humor, sarcasm, and spot on observations.

    18. Letterman was always a love/hate proposition. You 'got' him, or you didn't. For me he was the best, from the earliest days of the morning show, to the end in 2015 (eagerly awaiting the Netflix project recently announced). Unfortunately,Jason Zinoman manages to make this a boring read. This book doesn't strike a a nerve or a chord the way that groundbreaking show did. With the access given by Letterman and his staff, this should have been much better.

    19. The title of the book is "Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night," but the overall emphasis is on his showbiz career; Letterman the person remains an enigma. He hosted two national nightly shows over the course of 33 years, but I had a tough time understanding what makes Dave tick. Author Jason Zinoman says in the Acknowledgments page that he watched between 2,000 and 3,000 hours of Letterman's shows, plus much of his early radio and television work in Indiana and Los Angeles. If he watched 3,0 [...]

    20. This is an excellent, swiftly paced book that succeeds because its author made a wise thematic decision: it is less a biography of David Letterman than it is a persuasive essay about the importance of Letterman's talk shows (specifically Late Night) and their continuing effect on a generation's worth of comedy, presented in the guise of a standard biography.None of Zinoman's interviews are with family or friends; he talked only with Letterman's writers and producers, as well as the subject himse [...]

    21. Everything I hoped it would be, Jason Zinoman has written a clever, insightful, in-depth biography of one of my comedy heroes. From his modest raising in Indiana through his rise to the king of late night, this was a learning experience about a man I felt I knew, but didn't really know. Letterman was a true innovative force in TV who mocked the medium and himself. Profoundly shy, disarmingly charming, and sarcastic, Dave is an enigma. Letterman:The Last Giant of Late Night digs deep into the wor [...]

    22. solidly written and researched, w/ some great coverage of the show's 80s NBC material, plus decent quotes from DL himself. letterman's late-career sexual misadventures are dealt with relatively thoroughly, though without any kind of heavy-handed authorial judgment being passed, and then book ends abruptly. also, zinoman muffs dave's final joke, heard here: youtube/watch?v=0d3FK (go to :40). zinoman writes that letterman said "we did 6000 shows and half of them sucked," which isn't that funny, bu [...]

    23. Letterman had a late night talk show for more than thirty years, during which time the medium changed and expanded significantly with the advent of cable. Zinoman's book portrays Letterman as a brooding, self-doubting, insecure person. It seems dubious that someone of that ilk could perform at the level Letterman has for as long as he did. Secondly, while Letterman's humor is definitely in a class of its own, I do not think his influence on those who followed is as powerful as Zinoman posits. If [...]

    24. Very well done. The transformations of Dave, comedy and TV through the years are well-researched and well-described. While his relationship with Paul Shaffer through the years recurred in the book, I missed a real discussion of Dave's impact on pop music. He booked and broke artists other TV shows hadn't gotten to yet or had forgotten. His Christmas tradition with Darlene Love, his relationship with Pearl Jam, Warren Zevon and so many others I would have liked to have seen them woven into the s [...]

    25. Vague, incomplete, and wholly underwhelming. Parts of the book are well-done, but it largely ignores or only briefly stops upon areas of great significance (Dave's role overall and his relationship with Leno at The Comedy Store, and Harry's birth, to name a couple.) The repeated attempted analysis of Dave's psyche and personality is just a deluge of meaningless, strung-together adjectives that provide very little in the way of insight.Given the little that's been written about Dave, this was dis [...]

    26. An honest, warts and all, biography of Letterman from his Indiana childhood. The book's focus begins with his obstinate behavior during his college radio days and proceeding at a nice pace until his move from NBC to CBS. The subsequent years are barely covered.Letterman's was not my late show of choice, but I was very aware of the battle to fill Johnny Carson's spot on The Tonight Show. I was not aware of much about the turmoil of Dave's staff nor within Letterman himself. Interesting.

    27. I had expectations for this book because I love Letterman and this was a NYT reporter, but it was the usual creepy look at a creepy guy.Except. The book referred to the epic battle between a humidifier and a dehumidifier, and it made me laugh again. Whenever the book talked about his bits, I laughed. It made me want to kill lots of time on YouTube and revisit his genius. The book was clear about his abundant issues, but all it made me want to hear Letterman and laugh again.

    28. I never get tired of reading about the late night talk show wars of the Letterman/Leno era, and this take chronicles Dave Letterman’s career. I was a big fan of his last two shows, at least until the last few years before he retired. This was a fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse of his eccentric personality and the folks who made those shows great.

    29. This was a biography that kept me reading. The book is not written by Letterman but he is quoted frequently and all of the major players in his life are quoted. I didn't know much about the talk show host before this book. I enjoyed this book that takes you from childhood past retirement.

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