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Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night (edition 2017)

by Jason Zinoman (Author)

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Member:carpentercarse
Title:Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night
Authors:Jason Zinoman (Author)
Info:Harper (2017), 368 pages
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Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night by Jason Zinoman

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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 concentrates on his career and how he redefined talk shows.

It has never been in doubt that Letterman shaped the humor and the format of current talk shows. Although much has been said or speculated about Letterman's personal life and reclusive nature, Letterman is the quintessential originator of the current talk show model. Pulling no punches, Zinoman covers the difficulties between Letterman and the show's employees and writers, especially Merrill Markoe, who shared a long professional and personal connection with Letterman. He mentions the recurring characters written into (especially) the early shows. Letterman also does not shy away from noting the personal toll fame extracted on the iconic talk show host.

During the beginning of his national broadcasting career I was in college and a perfect audience for his irreverent, mocking, sarcastic humor. After watching some of his morning show in 1980, I started watching Late Night with David Letterman (1982-92) almost nightly during the beginning of his career and through his switch in 1993 from NBC to CBS, although my viewing began to taper off toward the later years. I vividly remember many of the early shows or stunts shared in Letterman, and how I laughed uncontrollably over a stunt or sarcastic comment/joke, which was the talk of all the (dare I say) hip, young crowd the next day. In fact, David Letterman is an integral part of popular culture over several generations.

Zinoman did plenty of research and interviews for the book and has notes for each chapter. He includes quotes in the text from many inside sources and personalities associated with Letterman's career.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins. ( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Apr 10, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062377213, Hardcover)

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 more 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 clichés in comedy today.

(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 21 Dec 2016 08:48:14 -0500)

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