When most people leave a job, they don’t get to do it with even a small percentage of the class and style that David Letterman exuded when he hosted his last Late Show before retiring from the biz. From this night of touching flashbacks and hilarious moments, something that might surprise you is the fact that two of the funniest jokes were actually written by a 21-year-old intern on the show.
Staff writer Bill Scheft recently documented his time working on the final episode through a ridiculously interesting Tumblr post, in which he went through the entire day, detailing each aspect. When talking about the stellar Top Ten list – Top Ten Things I’ve Always Wanted to Say to David Letterman – he had this to say.
8 of the 10 celebrities were happy with the lines we had written for them. Tina Fey and Julia Louis-Dreyfus wanted to consider other takes. Julia settled on a line written by Mike Leech which the next day was proclaimed the ‘winner’ of the Top Ten. Tina took something a little more subtle and much more pointed (‘Thanks for finally proving men can be funny…’) That line, ladies and gentleman, ladies and ladies, was written by Caroline, whose last name I don’t know. I don’t know because she was the writer’s intern and we never got that formal.
It’s worth noting that Scheft updated the story to say that her full name is Caroline Schaper. And while Louis-Dreyfus’ gag was indeed hilarious, it was aimed more at Jerry Seinfeld than at Letterman, so Schaper’s line for Tina Fey was all the more effective because of that.
Scheft goes on about Schaper’s contributions.
But on the last day of the last show, she scored the final two entries on the final Top Ten. Oh yeah, she already had Bill Murray’s line (‘Dave, I’ll never have the money I owe you…’) We were all genuinely thrilled for her. This 21-year-old has all the resume she needs going forward. I will be happy to help her in any way I can.
That is indeed one hell of a career highlight for someone branching into the business. I can’t imagine ever writing anything that Bill Murray would read aloud on TV, unless I get creatively obsessive with some fan mail. Check out the full Top Ten below.
Scheft also talks about that epic montage that closed out the show, and how its compiler Barbara Gaines leaped on the stage and hugged Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl after their first rehearsal performance. The whole thing just makes me miss Letterman even more.