David Letterman Goes to India

The retired talk show host ventured far for his Years of Living Dangerously episode.

The online lead time for Dave Itzkoff’s Sunday New York Times print interview piece with David Letterman amounts to a full week of old Late Night shows. (An occupation the former host now frames as, “really, that’s what you did?”) The piece went online Monday and also precedes Letterman’s return to episodic TV via the National Geographic series Years of Living Dangerously, which returns for a second season starting Oct. 30.

From Itzkoff’s piece:

This past winter, Mr. Letterman and a production crew flew to Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi (“Two years in a row, the No. 1 airport in the world,” he said). He visited the city and the state of Uttar Pradesh to see firsthand how India’s swelling population was dealing with energy shortages, trying to reduce its dependency on coal and bring power to regions that still lack it.

There were many moments of found comedy, like when Mr. Letterman visited a tailor to be fitted for a kurta; he also conducted a serious-minded interview with Prime Minister Narendra Modi (that nonetheless ended, off-camera, with Mr. Letterman complimenting Mr. Modi on his beard).

What has stuck with Mr. Letterman about the trip, all these months later, is how completely different India is from anything he has experienced in America, and what he regards as the fundamentally hopeful nature of the Indian people he encountered. “You talk about the energy of New York City — India makes New York City look like nap time,” he said.

Commenting is open for this particular Times article and the thread includes a fair number of warm wishes to Letterman for a happy retirement. Dave tells Itzkoff he has purchased electric cars and installed solar panels at his Montana ranch. For a behind-the-scenes look at Letterman’s interview with India’s Prime Minister, click here.

Previously on FishbowlNY:
Letterman Trims the Beard for Brokaw