A bearded David Letterman makes halfhearted return on Netflix

Lawrence Kim
January 13, 2018

But two years later, and after growing a now-infamous beard, Letterman is back with a six-episode monthly interview series on Netflix, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, which debuted its first episode Friday with former President Barack Obama as the guest. If there's a bold idea with My Next Guest, it's to be as un-bold as possible.

Obama gives the briefest of overviews of the economic crash era of his presidency and discusses social media's nefarious role in the recent U.S. election (classic "we live in a bubble" stuff) before rocketing on to fatherhood and his foundation.

After watching Letterman's lengthy interview with former President Obama, critics were not exactly thrilled with Letterman's performance. Those who thought My Next Guest might be another round of zing-y celebrity interviews can probably rest easy, though more traditional celebs like Jay-Z and George Clooney will be included in the season. Letterman's show, on the other hand, promised to go deeper: intimate, in-depth interviews with whomever Letterman deemed interesting, regardless of the topic of the day.

Letterman's admiration for both men was obvious, and explicit. They also get into some nuanced political talk, something Letterman would generally avoid in his old show.

"What's changed I think from when we were kids is technology", Obama told Letterman.

In what felt like maybe the stupidest human trick of all time, Letterman - the caustic late night TV king whose ask-'em-anything interviewing style seems custom made for the Age of President Trump - ended his CBS show in May 2015.

A clip released by Netflix Wednesday showed the ex-president and ex-"Late Show" host amiably chatting about the very grown-up subject of fatherhood. "I'm prevented from running again by the Constitution", he says, "but even if it were not for that amendment, Michelle would leave me". 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.

Three years after Letterman handed the Late Show franchise keys to Stephen Colbert, the CBS late night show has delivered impeccable ratings.

He played movie host on Atlanta's TCM with Alec Baldwin: As one of the guest hosts of "The Essentials", Letterman curated a list of flicks and shmoozed about them with Baldwin.

Obama pivoted the conversation on race to discuss barriers that still exist for voting in America.

If you're thinking that Letterman coming out of retirement, lured to Netflix, is going to lead to something wholly new and super exciting, well, no. "They will bury me in it", the Washington Post reported him saying a few months ago.

You could appreciate the irony: A recent President explaining show business to a late night legend. That's not to say there's no method at all here, just that this is a more relaxed format than we've seen Letterman anchor in the past. What better fantasy come true for anyone who misses both men terribly?

Obama avoided mentioning Trump, who blasts both the media and the Russian Federation investigation regularly, and instead opted to go more broad with his answer.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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