Late Night King David Letterman Returns for Netflix’s ‘My Next Guest Needs No Introduction’
In the ongoing trend of major stars packing their bags and heading from primetime to streaming, David Letterman is the latest to make the trip. The talk show comedian, who served as the host for “Late Show” on CBS, picks up right where he left off. During the final episode of his aforementioned run, Letterman interviewed then President Barack Obama. Now, several years later, after both Letterman and Obama have been replaced of their former titles, the two reunite to catch up on the premiere of Letterman’s new venture, Netflix’s “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.”
Greeting a large theater of cheering audience members, Letterman dawns a long beard. It’s been two years, yet his stride is ever confident. The comedian opens up with a brief monologue, careful to not get too topical, but simply reintroducing his new mission. The monthly series offers a sit-down where Letterman will interview guests including Malala Yousafzai, Jay-Z, and George Clooney. With each 60-minute episode focusing on one guest, and one guest only, it allows him the opportunity to significantly dig into his guest’s life – much more than the traditional 12-minute late night interview time slot ever provided prior.
With the inaugural episode, Letterman’s interview with Obama provides a fair combination of lighthearted jest that can get quite moving at times. As Letterman opens the sit-down, he notes, “You and I just left long-term jobs.” To which Obama quips, “We did. I was not fired though.” The interview, or rather discussion, covers Obama’s childhood, his mother, and fatherhood. The 44th President opens up about his first days in the White House and his first moments after stepping out. He touches on several political issues as they currently stand, but no mention is ever made of President Trump.
This isn’t the first time that Netflix has attempted to create their own version of a talk show. In 2015, the streaming giant launched their partnership with former E! late-night host, comedian Chelsea Handler. Kicking off with several documentaries to establish her well-rounded approach, the relationship eventually formed into a weekly talk show “Chelsea.” The format remained very similar to primetime fare – consisting of a monologue, interviews, and remote segments, yet it was rather flexible in its combination of the sort. In December, Netflix and Handler ended the chat show in favor of returning to documentary-style films.
With an hour-long interview, and remote segments thrown in here and there, “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction” sways further away from talk show clichés, topical punchlines, and tawdry sketches – making it more appropriate for streaming. It’s a different Letterman, one more interested in really diving into an interview subject rather than ticking off the next joke. Whereas the viewer wouldn’t necessarily want to stream an episode of “Chelsea” featuring political commentary, jokes, and film star interviews dating back to last year, “No Introduction” is less topical and more evergreen touch in its presentation. It feels appropriate, but only if Letterman can get fully into the new groove.
‘My Next Guest Needs No Introduction’ premieres Jan. 12 on Netflix.