I don't watch every night but whenever I do I like him and I always have. For me he was the successor to Johnny Carson who I link to my growing up years and my parents. My dad was very funny and people compared him to Johnny Carson. And watching Johnny was what we did. I remember waiting until after his monologue on September 17th 1973 before Chris Connor and I went to the hospital to have our first baby. I am telling you, Johnny Carson and David Letterman were both important to me.
I have this thing about comedians anyway. I learn from them in watching them about timing and presence as a speaker myself. Strangely, even more than watching them - I like to read about them and learn about their process. I have read lots of books - (recent favorite were Tina Fey and Amy Poehler's), listen to podcasts (Kevin Pollek, Marc Maron, Aisha Taylor), and like "Comedians in Cars with Coffee" alot. Yesterday I watched a new documentary by Kevin Pollek called Comedy Loves Misery. It was essentially interviews with a slew of comedians about their life and their art.
What struck me is that some of them mentioned how thrilling it is (like a drug) to be in control of an audience. Others emphasized connecting to the audience. Some talked about the "disease" of "Look at me" -- wanting attention and to be seen. Others talked about becoming authentic and speaking their truth about life.
All of it makes me think about some of the reading I have been doing with this book on Centering Prayer by Cynthia Bourgeault. I read the chapter on "Divine Therapy" and it expressed an understanding of our wounded egos that I found to be helpful. She writes that woundings come in the areas of security/survival, esteem/affection, and power/control. And when our egos are wounded we lack self esteem and we are overly defended. And yesterday watching the documentary so many men and women spoke about how tough this life was but that in maturity they were able to accept and get past the many time of failure and find their own voice. And the big question is: how do we get to that place of maturity?
I listened to a podcast of David Letterman recently and he talked about how different he was after his heart surgery and how much more able to relax and enjoy his life and stop needing to be in control and have his self esteem rise and fall with every show.
All of which brings me back to my life and the spiritual emphasis of it. My experience continues to be that something happens to us in prayer and in our faith walk that enables that wisdom, maturity, perspective to happen so that we can find not only peace in our lives but connections with each other and the universe. That is what can heal our wounded egos so that we can live our lives as a blessing to each other and not as a competitor.
I believe that people are called to be comedians as well as ministers and teachers and other vocations. And these people - especially when they are spiritually and emotionally healthy - can - not only make us laugh - but make us think about ourselves and the world in new and important ways.
And so I am grateful to Johnny Carson, David Letterman, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and many others for their humor, wit and wisdom.