After Barack Obama appeared as the first guest on David Letterman's new Netflix show, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, several of the amusing stories shared between the two are making their own headlines. If there's a bold idea with My Next Guest, it's to be as un-bold as possible. When Letterman asked which hypothetical was worse for the United States, the "diminishment ... of [the] press" by the president or "somebody screwing around with the actual voting process", Obama pointed to a lack of shared basic facts as "one of the biggest challenges". Future guests include Tina Fey, Jay-Z, Howard Stern, George Clooney and Malala Yousafzai.
Letterman was intent on discussing the rise of racism in America, a conversation interspersed with footage of another interview Letterman recently conducted with U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.). "I'm a holy man now", Letterman responded.
The former president also possesses an apparent affinity for Letterman whose NBC "Late Night" built a strong college following with its debut in 1982, when Obama was studying political science at Columbia University.
"We've only been here a few hours, but my impression of Selma in fact is entirely different than I thought it would be, you know", the Times-Journal quoted Letterman during his visit.
Perhaps even more impactful than the Obama interview itself was how it was interwoven with a supplementary discussion between Dave and revered civil rights activist John Lewis. Letterman obviously does not want that for this show.
This time around, he's partnered with Netflix for a pared-back version of his Late Show. "She's doing all this cool stuff I'm standing behind a podium and I'm droning on and on about, 'Well, the legislative strategy for such and such.' And people are clicking the television trying to find something else". There seem to be a seventy-nine cameras pointed at Letterman's stage, with overly dramatic cutting to close-ups and iMovie-worthy photo montages. Letterman walked onstage, introduced his guest, and they sat down for an hour. She once delivered such a sick burn to the late night host that he's still talking about it!
Obama has laid low since leaving the White House previous year, appearing only in a few public appearances and a radio interview with Prince Harry of the British Royal Family recorded in September and broadcasted in December. The result is a more reflective, if a little blander, host. "They will be able to create this poignant moment", Obama said, disappearing with Letterman down the hallway horizon.
I see some of you are, but not all of you.
You could appreciate the irony: A recent President explaining show business to a late night legend.
For more about the show, go here. "My Next Guest" isn't the biggest project on Netflix's slate, but it's nevertheless nice to see Letterman back in front of an audience, in part because one suspects - with these guests - that he'd be just as happy to chat without one. Subsequent episodes will appear monthly in what could turn out to be the first - or only - season of the hourlong show.