Former weatherman David Letterman did an audience-free show on Monday night. He and band leader Paul Shaffer stood outside of The Ed Sullivan Theater in yellow rain slickers at the start of the hour, patting their pockets for the key to the locked door. Once inside, he was prepared with wet humor: “I haven’t seen people soaked this badly since the Facebook IPO.” “Across the street at FlashDancers, the strippers are lashed to the pole.” The silence from 500 empty seats, with an occasional interpolation from band leader Paul Shaffer (he pegged the Facebook joke as dubious “tech humor”), rim shots and wiry guitar riffs from the band, and the occasional cough or sneeze from an off-camera staffer — you know, it really worked. It was a damn funny Late Show.
Letterman did not let the monologue go by without a political joke. Noting that the weather might impede some people from voting, Letterman assured us, “Don’t worry: The Republicans have back-up crooked voting machines.” Hi-yo!: Paging Rachel Maddow!
There was a Top 10 List that offered alternatives to the original media name for the hurricane, Frankenstorm. Among the host’s suggestions: “Trumpical Storm” and “Oprah Windy.”
The main guest was Denzel Washington, a more playful, ebullient Washington than I’ve seen on TV for a while.
Clearly exhilarated to promote his new movie Flight, and to simply have flown in from Los Angeles safely, Washington was an enthusiastic participant in the spirit of the evening:
Washington even contributed an amusing Jim Cantore-in-mid-storm impersonation.
Letterman said at the top of the show it had been decided not to have a studio audience this night because “it would put people in jeopardy,” but, he added, “Hell, we’ve been doing that for 30 years!”