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Comedian and late-night talk show host David Letterman is known for his irreverent sense of humor and cynical, mocking style.
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Born on April 12, 1947, in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Letterman's big break came when he began appearing on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. He was eventually offered his own late-night show. His humor was well suited to the late-late hour, and the show became widely popular. When NBC gave Carson's spot to Jay Leno, Letterman moved to CBS. His CBS show airs opposite Leno's show.
"I'm just trying to make a smudge on the collective unconscious."
Television personality and talk show host David Letterman was born on April 12, 1947, in Indianapolis, Indiana, to Harry Joseph Letterman, a florist, and Dorothy, a church secretary who now appears regularly as a correspondent on his late-night talk show. He has two sisters, Janice and Gretchen.
Letterman is best known for his gap-toothed self-mockery, and his brash, wry, somewhat cynical sense of humor. His unconventional demeanor and sense of humor attracted a cult following, which has gone on to define the young, hip, media-savvy generation that is his main audience, and inspire countless comedians and talk show hosts who have followed him.
Letterman studied radio and television at Ball State University, in Muncie, Indiana (B.A. 1969). He worked in Indianapolis as a radio talk-show host, the host of a children's program and a late-night movie, a news anchor and as a television weatherman, where his brand of humor was already evident, if not necessarily appreciated. One night he reportedly upset his bosses when he congratulated a tropical storm on being upgraded to a hurricane.
In 1975, Letterman moved to Los Angeles and wrote material for popular sitcoms, including Good Times. His big break came when he began appearing on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, whom he has since referred to as his mentor. In 1978, he became Carson's regular guest host, and in 1980, he was offered his own show, the daytime David Letterman Show. The show only lasted for three months, but was a critical success, and convinced NBC-TV to give the young comedian a late-night show following Carson's.
The late-late show hour was well-suited to Letterman's brash and quirky humor. Late Night with David Letterman soon became popular with a young audience by mixing the usual talk-show ingredients of celebrity guests and music with his irreverent manner and zany comic stunts.
Letterman's signature features include The Top Ten List, Stupid Pet Tricks (along with its companion, Stupid Human Tricks), Viewer Mail and pencils tossed at the camera and at the set behind him, "breaking" the non-existent glass with a cued crash sound. He is also known for his parody sketches that target the obviously weak acting abilities of his bandleader Paul Schaffer (and other members of The World's Most Dangerous Band), stage-hand Biff Henderson and general odd-ball Larry Bud Melman.
After NBC chose Jay Leno as the replacement for the retiring Johnny Carson in 1993 -- a position Letterman had publicly desired -- Letterman moved to CBS. He signed a lucrative deal to host The Late Show with David Letterman, which airs opposite The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
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