Patton Oswalt’s Heart-Felt Farewell Note To David Letterman Is Tremendous

Tonight Bill Murray and Bob Dylan will appear on the Ed Sullivan Theater stage for the second-to-last episode of The Late Show with David Letterman. For those of us who grew up watching Letterman with our parents, it’s a bittersweet week — Letterman has been in our lives for so long that the very idea of him being off television feels a little bit like losing someone.

Personally, I lament the changing of a comedy era. Letterman’s brand of content is campy and dumb, in true showman style. He’s an entertainer with a brand of humor that’s the main attraction, not himself. That’s rare on late night television today, where everyone strives to out snark and out smart each other.



It sucks to say goodbye to someone, but such is life. Patton Oswalt wrote an emotional Facebook tribute about what Letterman meant to him during an awkward stage of his life. It gets all of the feels today:

David Letterman's last show is Wednesday night. I'm writing this now because I know I'll lose it after watching him talk…

Posted by Patton Oswalt on Tuesday, May 19, 2015

David Letterman’s last show is Wednesday night. I’m writing this now because I know I’ll lose it after watching him talk to Bill Murray for the last time tonight So, briefly, while still of sound mind:

My freshman year of college I was a mess. Obnoxious, drunk, completely out of my depth socially and intellectually. I was a riding lawn mower that someone had set on fire and placed a brick on the accelerator.

Too squat for sports, too mush-mouthed for theater, too friendless for frats and too broke for much of anything else, I spent most weeknights on the attic floor of my dorm. Madison Hall at William and Mary. There was a television on a little table. Couple of couches.

Me and a tiny circle of “friends” — friends by default, now that I think of it, ’cause we’d shit-headed ourselves out of all the other social circles — would drink Mickey wide-mouths and watch re-runs of M*A*S*H* and Barney Miller on some local Tidewater channel. And then, at 12:30, we’d switch on Letterman.

I’d never watched much David Letterman in high school. I was aware of him, of course, but for some reason — probably ’cause I felt like i had a better handle on the world when I was a high school senior rather than a college freshman — his twilight circus of irony, sweetness, freaks and geniuses didn’t call to me.

Now it was all I wanted to know. Up in that attic, pretty much from August of 1987 through May of 1988, I was a Letterman acolyte. I was watching a show where the awkward, outcast and un-confident seemed to be having the time of their lives. Harvey Pekar, Brother Theodore, Pee Wee Herman, Chris Elliott, Flunky the Late Night Clown and, yes, Bill Murray. Everyone had their own rhythm and they didn’t care whether or not the world was tuned into it. It was a rebuke to my false idea that, once you were an oddball, you needed to punish the world for it. Letterman thanked his lucky stars for being out of sync with the smooth and beautiful. Smooth and beautiful was a terrific life if you lucked into it, but crooked and weird led to better adventures.

In July of 1988 I did my first open mike. There were a lot of things that led me to getting on that stage. But the thing that most made me want to inhabit the world AROUND that stage — a world of the socially awkward, and obnoxious, and funny and genius and memorable — were the nights spent watching Late Night With David Letterman.

So thanks, Dave. I only got to meet you once, when we shook hands after my first and only stand-up set on your show (that’s a pic of my setlist, written in my hotel room that afternoon of the taping). You were friendly but distant, but I could tell you wanted me to do well. One comedian to another.

And thank you for NEVER putting yourself above the oddness you so clearly delighted in.

Perfectly said. And if you haven’t watched Jimmy Fallon’s fond goodbye to Letterman on The Tonight Show last night (… the franchise that infamously passed Letterman up for Jay Leno back in the day), watch it:

Brandon Wenerd is BroBible's publisher, writing on this site since 2009. He writes about sports, music, men's fashion, outdoor gear, traveling, skiing, and epic adventures. Based in Los Angeles, he also enjoys interviewing athletes and entertainers. Proud Penn State alum, former New Yorker. Email: