"Good evening. Certain NBC executives feel it would be a little unkind to present this show without just a word of friendly warning. We are about to unfold a show featuring David Letterman, a man of science who sought to create a show after his own image without reckoning upon God. It's one of the strangest tales ever told. I think it will thrill you. it may shock you. It might even horrify you. So if any of you feel you don't care to subject your nerves to such a strain, now's your chance to... well... we warned you."
And so began David Letterman's foray into late night television from February 1st, 1982 — over 33 years ago — featuring Bill Murray, Mr. Wizard, and a lot of welding (seriously). Though some of the references are dated, it's surprising how much of the show still holds up. It's funny. It's weird. It's brilliant.
This isn't the show we're saying goodbye to tonight, and I don't just mean in name and network (Letterman's move from NBC to CBS is wild enough to warrant a book and a movie. It's easy to forget that Letterman was this awkward, subversive comic that took a late night timeslot and thought it fitting to just be weird and take risks long before he became a cultural constant for over three decades.
David Letterman's last show airs tonight on CBS.