Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night

By Jason Zinoman
Read by Michael Goldstrom

9.65 Hours 04/11/2017 unabridged
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    ISBN: 9780062660916

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    ISBN: 9781538411995

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    ISBN: 9781538412015

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 cocreator, 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.

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Summary

Summary

Washington Post Top 10 Book of Books That Loved

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 cocreator, 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.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“An acute portrait of stardom, an insightful chronicle of three rambunctious decades of pop-culture evolution, and a very brainy fan’s notes…[Zinnoman is] especially sharp and engaging when he’s breaking down Letterman’s trademark predilections.” New York Times Book Review
“Zinoman’s ambitious work succeeds in capturing Letterman’s cultural impact while unearthing the human being behind the frequently inscrutable television icon.” Publishers Weekly
“Top-notch research bolstered by one-on-one interviews make this a must-read for Letterman fans.” Library Journal
“Well researched, incorporating a nice mixture of interviews…the Letterman biography fans have been waiting for.” Booklist
“Sharp, revealing…This incisive, illuminating book shows the personal toll that success took on all responsible, the price paid for laughs.” Kirkus Reviews
“I devoured this book. Not only a rare and richly detailed account of the life of one of my comedy heroes, but I loved that you can feel Zinoman’s curiosity about, and admiration for, Dave’s singular sensibility on every page.” Billy Eichner, star, executive producer, and creator of Funny Or Die’s Billy on the Street
“Jason Zinoman is simply one of the sharpest, most supple-minded, and most fearless cultural reporters and critics working today.” Brett Martin, author of Difficult Men

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Reviews

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Author

Author Bio: Jason Zinoman

Jason Zinoman is a critic and reporter covering theater for the New York Times. He has also regularly written about movies, television, books, and sports for publications such as Vanity Fair, the Guardian, the Economist, and Slate. He was the chief theater critic for Time Out New York before leaving to write the On Stage and Off column in the Weekend section of the New York Times.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, CD, MP3 CD
Category: Nonfiction/Biography & Autobiography
Runtime: 9.65
Audience: Adult
Edition: English