“Late Show with David Letterman” turned 20-years-old on on August 30th and Bill Murray was there on Thursday night’s show to help him celebrate. Murray was the guest on the first episode on CBS, as well as the first episode of “Late Night with David Letterman” on NBC in 1982. Earlier in the show, Dave proclaimed, (Murray) is the gold standard in American comedy.”
Bill made an incredible entrance, coming out of a Rolls-Royce dressed as Liberace. The outfit came complete with a poodle, a pompadour, a cape, and a Scott Thorson look-alike. In character, Billberace (TM) elaborated, “You know I love you, audience, I love you, but I don’t have the time tonight because I’m only here for one reason (points to Dave). He presented Letterman with an “I love you” gift, a mural above the Ed Sullivan Theater sign featuring Murray posed adorably resting his tilted head on his bare arms appearing to be only wearing a bow around his neck. The words underneath the photo simply state, “Bill Murray Wishes Dave a Happy 20th Anniversary.”
As the interview went on, Murray explained he left something on the set 20 years ago during his first appearance on the ‘Late Show”. He proceeded to dig through the carpeting underneath both guest chairs with a box cutter, pickaxe, and a jackhammer until he dug up a silver time box. The items inside were a New York Post (that happened to have an article about Jay Leno that day), a Letterman hairpiece, a framed photo of Bill and Dave from that interview, and a copy of Billboard magazine. The number one song at the time was “I Will Always Love You” so Murray went into his lounge lizard act (accompanied by Paul Shaffer, just like during their old “SNL” days) to sing a rousing version to Dave.
There were other highlights of the anniversary episode. Dave presented the”Top Ten Top Ten List Entries” which out-of-context turned it into a great non sequiturial bit. He also informed us that he had done 3901 episodes on CBS, and 5711 episodes of late night television all together. After the performance of his musical guests, Lenny Kravitz and Gladys Knight, Letterman thanked the audience and viewers while the CBS Orchestra started playing over an overwhelming montage of pictures featuring show highlights and guests. It even became moving at points when he showed friends that he was close with who are no longer alive, particularly Johnny Carson, Warren Zevon, and George Miller. There was even several pictures of the legend that was Calvert DeForest (aka Larry “Bud” Melman”).
Happy 20th Anniversary, David Letterman. Thanks for giving us 31 wonderful years of late night comedy.