Time capsule: Before “Late Night,” see David Letterman in the morning with Steve Martin in 1980

Last night's Late Show with David Letterman included some remarkable TV, and not just because it felt like it could have been 1994 again — what with Howard Stern bashing Jay Leno over three segments, and a musical medley from Naughty By Nature (that, yes, including both O.P.P. and Hip-Hop Hooray).

Watching Stern and Letterman dance verbally around each other, watching Stern idolize Letterman while also mentioning his sex scandal multiple times, watching them talk about their history of telephone calls, watching Stern talk about therapy, watching Letterman watch Stern. All great stuff. Of course, CBS won't put this online for you kids who didn't watch it then to watch now.

So I dug up something else for you to enjoy. Here are a series of clips from an episode of Letterman's short-lived run in the morning for NBC in 1980, when he had an hour after the Today show and before Wheel of Fortune and Card Sharks. Yes. Before we had Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford to mock in the mid-mornings, well before that, we had Dave.

His earliest incarnation of his talk show career on network TV. The David Letterman Show included stage manager Biff Henderson, the set layout is remarkably similar from how it still is 31 years later on a different network, and even back then, Dave was doing "Small Town News."


This episode also includes two segments with Steve Martin, who rolled out in his pajamas in bed with a six-pack of beer, there to promote his All Commercials special that would air that night, Sept. 30, 1980, on NBC.


In the second segment, they answered viewer mail questions about comedy.


Hope you enjoyed this trip back in time!

(And yes, that was John Tesh in a front-row seat in the audience. He was a local TV reporter in NYC in 1980.)

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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