David Letterman blurted out his opinion of TV’s main medical man, Dr. Mehmet Oz, when Jimmy Fallon visited Letterman’s “Late Show” Thursday night on CBS.
It was one of those rare occasions when one late-night star visited another — occasions that always fascinate us. Why? For the simple reason that late-night is one of TV’s most competitive time periods and the sight of one late-night star graciously hosting another one always has us wondering what these guys are really up to. But more on that in a moment …
First, this statement Letterman made about Dr. Oz: It came when he and Fallon were talking about the studio set-up at NBC’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza headquarters. Dave, who was the first host of Fallon’s show — NBC’s “Late Night” — wanted to talk about the facilities at 30 Rock. So Fallon explained that his show is originating in a studio just opposite the studio Letterman once occupied as the host of “Late Night.”
That’s when Fallon mentioned that Letterman’s former studio is now the home of Dr. Oz’s daytime talk show.
To which Letterman exclaimed: “That quack is in our old studio?! You’re kidding me!” And Fallon just laughed and laughed. You can watch what happened by clicking on the clip, above.
Later, Fallon told a story that Letterman could relate to. It was an instance in which a celebrity who had been the butt of some of Jimmy’s monologue jokes cornered Jimmy and demanded angrily that he refrain from joking about him. The celebrity was Olympic decathlon great Bruce Jenner, whose apparent plastic surgery on his face has been the subject of numerous monologue jokes for years on all of the late-night shows. The confrontation took place in London this past summer, when Fallon was participating in NBC’s coverage of the Summer Olympics and he ran into Jenner in an NBC commissary.
Jimmy also did one of his famous musical impressions: With Neil Young waiting in the wings for his own sitdown with Letterman, Fallon plucked a guitar and harmonica from behind his chair and did a shortened version of a bit he first did on his own show — his impression of Neil Young singing the theme song for “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”
Our take: It certainly wasn’t the first time that Letterman has hosted another late-night star on his show. Fallon’s been on before. Conan O’Brien’s been on the “Letterman” show a couple of times, and Jimmy Kimmel’s been on the show too. And so has Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, of course. It seems to us that Dave has these competitors on his show not only for their comedy and their drawing power. By having them on, Dave gets to burnish his image as late-night’s elder statesman — the self-confident, “tenured” late-night star who’s above the fray. After all, to the younger generation of late-night hosts, he’s a TV god, as every single one of them has said often.
We also think having Fallon on the show serves another purpose for Dave: It’s kind of a dig at Jay Leno because here’s this multi-talented younger guy — Fallon — who’s a shoo-in to replace Leno on “The Tonight Show” in a few years, getting a showcase on the “Letterman” show in competition with Jay, courtesy of the guy — Letterman — who has been Jay’s rival for 30 years. Ya gotta love late-night TV.