1 week ago


know it looked

know it looked unrehearsed because it was. Aside from the written sketches, which were obviously “written comedy,” everything else was just conversation. I started out by kind of regurgitating old ways, old show businessy things, the things some of my idols like Jerry Lewis and Sammy Davis had said, and contrasting them to the way we spoke at that time. But then David said let’s try to just have a conversation and not plan anything—it was truly flying by the seat of your pants—tremendously exciting. Sometimes it was successful and you’d get a big laugh, other times you’d just bomb. But if you did bomb, there was always another show the next night, and you’d try to make up for it. And it really was an ideal place to be for those years—for me it was perfect. because he’s a patriot. And I got to go with him and meet the heroes over there that were putting their lives in danger for us over here. It was incredible. And you know, while we’re talking about serious subjects and things I’ve seen, I think about the civil rights movement of the ’60s when I was young. I think about rock ’n’ roll music, how it derived from Rhythm & Blues music, Gospel music, how British—and white kids in general—started realizing the genius of black performers, loving it, talking it up. I think it had a lot to do with the strides that were made in the civil rights movement. We have a long, long way to go, Today’s late night talk hosts—Seth Myers, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, Trevor Noah—they seem to be expanding the range of their programs. They’ve become an actual news source for many viewers. I think this evolution is sort of natural. But I think we can trace its roots to Johnny Carson and David Letterman, combined with a Saturday Night Live sensibility. David’s show may have been more comedic than today’s shows, but idealistically, I think today’s shows may have come from Dave’s. The guys from Comedy Central, too, Dave Stewart and Stephen Colbert (when he was there), I think they’d agree that their brands came from Dave Letterman, too. So, I guess in this political climate, I find myself thinking it would be interesting to see what Dave would have done. Tell me some events in this amazing life of yours that stand out or have made a lasting impression upon you. I’ve had so many amazing experiences. One thing that stands out for me—going Christmas Eve with David Letterman to Afghanistan and then to Iraq for the following two Christmas Eves. They may have been the most moving experiences I ever had. Dave did not do these events to create an episode for his show—he really just did them but music was so powerful then, maybe it will be now, too. I was a kid in Canada watching it all on TV, but certainly making note of it. Even way up in Canada, I have a recollection of watching that big march in Washington on television—I was maybe 13 or so at the time. I saw that musicians were there, too, and I remember being so proud of them—even as a kid—especially the contemporary musicians of the time, seeing them there, changing the world. It made me very proud. 6 FLOD SPOTLIGHT | 2018 SPRING ISSUE | FIRSTLADIESOFDISCOSHOW.COM

COVER STORY | PAUL SHAFFER The record business, I couldn’t figure it out—now, even less so. PHOTO CREDIT: Todd Heisler-The New York Times You’re still very busy, staying in the moment. Well, I scored Letterman’s new show on Netflix yesterday in the studio, and it came out pretty good. That was satisfying. You know, it took me a while to decompress after so many years of doing a daily show. Now, I look back on it with nothing but pride and gratitude. With that pride and gratitude, do you have advice for young people wanting to have the kind of success and satisfaction you’ve had in entertainment, whatever their interest may be? You’ve got to love it so much—as was the case with me—I just couldn’t do anything else. I was a kid in Northern Canada, I didn’t think of going into show business at first. It was too far-fetched. I knew there was no stability in it—I felt that even as a kid. But I went to college, the University of Toronto, took liberal arts, and didn’t have the foggiest idea what I was gonna do. I gave up playing in my rock band at the time to settle down and become an academic. I got so sad and depressed that I couldn’t do anything but sleep. I was just in the wrong place. I started playing a little jazz on the side in my second year, and I cheered up right away. I realize I could do nothing else—I had to at least try it. I think if you don’t have that feeling in you, you will go and end up doing something else. The kind of frustration you have to endure—traveling in cold vans, as I had to do in Canada, setting up and breaking down your amplifier and sound system, playing at Holiday Inns—I couldn’t wait to do it again! If you don’t have that in you, if you’re saying, “It’s too cold to go downtown to do that audition,” then you don’t belong in the business. Don’t do it unless there’s nothing else you can do FLOD SPOTLIGHT | ISSUE 3 | FIRSTLADIESOFDISCOSHOW.COM 7 FLOD SPOTLIGHT | 2018 SPRING ISSUE | FIRSTLADIESOFDISCOSHOW.COM 7