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|O'BRIEN: We are back. I am here with David Letterman. Sir, a lot of people were watching the Olympics this weekend. They were watching your show. You sent your Mom to the Olympics,
which got a lot of publicity. I was wondering, does she have the bug now? Does she want to keep going?
LETTERMAN: Well, you know, first of all, that was an actress. That wasn't my Mom. The woman's name is Sylvia
Henderson, and she's great. Mom did audition, but wasn't right.
O'BRIEN: She wasn't quite there.
LETTERMAN: Yeah, yeah. It's very strange, because Mom may be the least demonstrative person I've ever been around. She
is very shy, very soft-spoken -- when she speaks very soft-spoken -- and we just decided to send her over there, and
we didn't really understand what was going to happen, and it turned out to be fairly nice, but as far as continuing this
sort of thing, I don't think she's going to Bosnia to cover the trouble there
O'BRIEN: Are there other networks vying for her time, for her attention? Is there any chance she'll be in the 12:30 slot?
LETTERMAN: Well, I guess anybody can get a show at 12:30, Conan.
O'BRIEN: If I had a cap, I would doff it to you, I really would.
LETTERMAN: Well, you know, my fears -- here's a woman who is my mother, so you figure she's got to be older than I am, you know, it would be odd if we were roughly the same age.
O'BRIEN: Just a little, yeah, a little strange.
LETTERMAN: She's 73 years old, and I thought, oh, my goodness -- and people are over there falling down and busting
their legs and stuff, and I just thought, the worst thing that could happen -- you know, forget the press -- if she gets
killed over there, that would just be ugly, you know, that would put an end to the whole thing right there, and I just had visions
of like a bobsled going haywire. Oh, Dave's Mom was standing a little too close. Because of the credentials Dave got for his Mom, she was able to look right over the bobsled rail and caught one in the head
But she had a great time, and the last couple of days, I don't know, maybe the last week, she was rooming with the Italian Bobsled Team. So I thought, thattagirl, Mom.
O'BRIEN: Did you ever think all those years, those 11 years, did you ever think of using her on the Late Night show here?
LETTERMAN: Occasionally Mom would call on the phone and we would chat with her about various things. We had her
one night call up -- as a kid she used to make these fried baloney sandwiches, and because we were in about our second or
third year, and completely out of ideas,
we decided it would be fun to have Mom call in, and on the phone she would talk me through making a fried baloney
sandwich. So it was one of those deals, I was so excited, because as a kid I remembered nothing being quite so flavorful
as this fried baloney sandwich, and I remembered it as being a lot more elaborate than the sandwich Mom did for us on the air
that night. I thought it was like fry the baloney in a little butter, and then you put like mayonnaise, and then you put lettuce,
and then you put tomato, and then you put mustard, and I thought this is --
O'BRIEN: You ate like Elvis.
LETTERMAN: And so Mom gets on the phone, and she kind of takes us through it, and she says, "All right, David, now
fry the baloney. Okay, now put it on a slice of bread. All right. Now put on another slice of bread." And I said, "Okay, yeah, yeah, now what, Mom?" And then she says, "Enjoy." That's not the fried baloney sandwich --
O'BRIEN: My only regret was that you didn't use her on that old show, because then your mother would be the intellectual property of this show.
We could use her for all kinds of things.
LETTERMAN: Oh, my good heavens.
O'BRIEN: A thought just occurred to me. I remember a couple years ago -- I don't remember how many years ago it
was but --
LETTERMAN: Well, pick a number. Nobody cares.
O'BRIEN: All right.
LETTERMAN: That's what I do. I just make stuff up all the time.
O'BRIEN: It was 1952.
LETTERMAN: The guy's name is "Ray." I called him "Lou." Nobody cares.
O'BRIEN: No one's keeping track. That's what you're saying, right?
O'BRIEN: I remember that you did something with Carson where Carson stole your car.
LETTERMAN: Yeah, that's right.
O'BRIEN: This is something that at the time I couldn't tell how much of this is fact, how much of it is fiction. Can you
straighten it out for us?
LETTERMAN: Well, from what you said so far, it's all true. Johnny Carson and I -- I used to live in a part of Malibu. It's
called Point Doom, and it's just this beautiful little neighborhood, and it kind of juts out into the Pacific. Now, Johnny Carson lived in the eight million dollar side of town, and I lived in about the hundred thousand dollar side of town, and I had in those
days -- and still do -- a 1973 Chevy pickup truck, and the thing that I loved about this truck was it was just beat to hell.
There's like a thousand dents, and because of the sea air, all of these dents would rust, and it really got to be quite an eye sore, but the uglier it got the more pride I had in having this pickup truck parked outside of my house. So one day I was a guest on Johnny's show -- you remember Johnny--
O'BRIEN: It's all so vague. I'm 14 years old. This is a clip-on tie.
LETTERMAN: And so, you know, I'm on the Tonight Show telling my little stories and trying to get laughs and dropping
my pants and whatever you got to do to get laughs, and so Johnny, I can tell, doesn't really -- he's not paying attention to anything I say. I can see in his eyes that he's waiting to pull the pin on a grenade. He can hardly wait to get to this moment.
So finally I wrap up my little skits, my little song and dance, and I'm looking around, and Johnny says, "Why don't you tell me about that piece of junk you've got parked out in front of your house." I said, "Well, I don't know," and you play along
with Carson, especially in those days -- not so much now -- but in those days.
Between you and me, Conan, I can pretty much write my own ticket, but in those days --
(Audience cheers and applauds)
LETTERMAN: So Carson is whining about my truck being an eye sore, and he says, "I have to run by there every day and
it's making me sick." And I said, "I don't know what you're getting to." He turns around, they have like a drum roll or
something, they open up the curtains, and there in the studio is my pickup truck, and he has swiped it and brought it into Burbank, and it's sitting there, and it's just then serving as a huge embarrassment to me in front of the entire world. So finally
he returns the truck, and I get to looking it over, and I realize that the left front headlight is busted out. So I think to myself,
"Oh, man." Oh, I'm salivating, lawsuit.
(Letterman rubs his fingers together in a money-grubbing gesture)
So about six weeks later, Johnny and I, with the aid of Judge Wapner --
I kind of filed suit against Carson for the damage suffered to my pickup truck -- and Judge Wapner comes on, and Johnny and I --
O'BRIEN: Did you do this on the show?
LETTERMAN: Yeah, on the show. No, we did it in his back yard.
O'BRIEN: Well, I don't know.
LETTERMAN: So Judge Wapner is sitting there, and Carson and I are behind podiums, and it's just like the People's Court,
and at the beginning of it, I walked over to Wapner and gave him a box of steaks. I thought that was pretty slick.
O'BRIEN: Smooth move, yeah.
LETTERMAN: And finally I was able to prove, and I felt very proud of this, that my truck had been damaged when Carson
swiped it, and I won a $30 settlement from Johnny Carson. I'm telling ya, I felt a little bit like one of his ex-wives.
I was in heaven. Get in on that gravy train
(Letterman rubs his fingers together in a money-grubbing gesture)
O'BRIEN: All those years when you were doing the show, when you were doing the show here at Late Night, and then you
have since gone on to CBS, did you think that this was all going to get this much attention?
O'BRIEN: Did you think the whole thing was going to get this kind of -- we don't have a lot of time left, and I was just
curious, did you think this was going to happen, that late night would turn into -- because I'm relatively new to it. I had no
idea that it was that important to the media or to people in general.
LETTERMAN: Yeah. I had no idea that it was that important, and NBC had no idea that it was that important.
(Loud, loud, loud applause, derisive laughter, shouts, cheers, hoots, jeers, taunts aimed at NBC)
O'BRIEN: I'm going to be squeegeeing car windows tomorrow.
LETTERMAN: No, no, no, no, but, you know, it's easy to be flip about it, but the truth of it is, I loved being here, and I still
have nothing but really strong positive memories, and the people that I dealt with and the executives and the programmers
and the folks that we saw on a daily basis, I felt like we had nice good strong relationships, and I don't hold any grudges,
and I don't regret anything that has happened, but I am surprised that it did get to be as silly as it was, you know, I mean,
just, but I don't know. That's just the way things go.
O'BRIEN: Well, listen, you're supposed to end on a big laugh. I thought what I would do is just thank you very much for coming. We are out of time, but this meant a lot to us to have you stop by. It was a very nice of you to come by and do that.
This is it. It goes on for about nine more minutes. Thanks very much.
LETTERMAN: You know, I was thinking about this, Conan, all weekend and this, by the way, was my worst fear about the
show, and it's happened.
(Letterman pulls his pants leg up and his beautiful but scrawny leg is showing)
LETTERMAN: I should have brought the long socks. See, look. See, look at that.
O'BRIEN: I find it attractive. It's a good look.
LETTERMAN: But, you know, when we did our last show here, and I was kind of wrapping things up, it was really a quiet hope of mine that I would be invited to come back on your show, and I didn't know if you would do it or not. I didn't know what the format would be. I didn't know if you would have any place for me.
O'BRIEN: It was all country music for a while.
And then we got into this, which seems to work a little better.
LETTERMAN: I used to be able to go and see Carson on The Tonight Show two or three times a year, and I loved it, and I realized that for one reason or another I probably wasn't going back to The Tonight Show.
O'BRIEN: I'm sure Jay would have you on.
LETTERMAN: So to be able to come here -- and I hope you will be nice enough to invite me back -- it's just been great fun, and I think you guys do a terrific job.
O'BRIEN: Well, thank you. I know you have to go to the MSG for the ESPY's, which is a tongue-twister now. You have to leave.
LETTERMAN: Oh, it's a big night for me, folks.
O'BRIEN: A big night for you.
LETTERMAN: A big night for me and my socks
O'BRIEN: But listen, thanks again. Do come back and visit us. And best of luck with your show. David Letterman.
LETTERMAN: Thank you.
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|Keep in mind that this was not transcribed by me, so any errors are unintentional and not my fault.|