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New York Times comedy critic Jason Zinoman delivers the definitive story of the life and artistic legacy of David Letterman, the greatest television talk show host of all time and the signature comedic voice of a generation.
In a career spanning more than thirty years, David Letterman redefined the modern talk show with an ironic comic style that transcended traditional television. While he remains one of the most famous stars in America, he is a remote, even reclusive, figure whose career is widely misunderstood. In Letterman, Jason Zinoman, the first comedy critic in the history of the New York Times, mixes groundbreaking reporting with unprecedented access and probing critical analysis to explain the unique entertainer’s titanic legacy. Moving from his early days in Indiana to his retirement, Zinoman goes behind the scenes of Letterman’s television career to illuminate the origins of his revolutionary comedy, its overlooked influences, and how his work intersects with and reveals his famously eccentric personality.
Zinoman argues that Letterman had three great artistic periods, each distinct and part of his evolution. As he examines key broadcasting moments—"Stupid Pet Tricks" and other captivating segments that defined Late Night with David Letterman—he illuminates Letterman’s relationship to his writers, and in particular, the show’s co-creator, Merrill Markoe, with whom Letterman shared a long professional and personal connection.
To understand popular culture today, it’s necessary to understand David Letterman. With this revealing biography, Zinoman offers a perceptive analysis of the man and the artist whose ironic voice and caustic meta-humor was critical to an entire generation of comedians and viewers—and whose singular style ushered in new tropes that have become clichés in comedy today.
In 2005, Dave Chappelle left show business at the height of his fame, giving up a small fortune and the hottest new television show in many years. In so doing, he transformed from being one of the greatest comics of his generation into one of the most enigmatic ever. In Searching for Dave Chappelle, Jason Zinoman, the first comedy critic in the history of The New York Times, sorts through the myriad theories and examines what happened to this singular artist. Through extensive reporting, this audiobook tells a compelling narrative that takes listeners behind the scenes of Comedy Central, the New York comedy scene and network television. This is not just a story about Dave Chappelle, but also about race, fame and the often blurry relationship between image and reality. Chappelle’s reputation has only grown over the years and he remains one of the most influential and admired comedians alive. Just as he tip-toes back into the spotlight with a high-profile national tour, this audiobook delivers the essential analysis of his life and work.