An Ode To Paul Shaffer On 'The Late Show', Because He Was David Letterman's Sidekick Who Never Quit
As we prepare to bid adieu on Wednesday, during the final episode of The Late Show with David Letterman, and send it off to that great big studio in the sky, we say goodbye to our favorite late night host, The Top 10 List, Stupid Pet Tricks, the Hello Deli, and Letterman's ever-loyal partner in crime Paul Shaffer. The sunglass-wearing, piano-playing maestro was there by the comedian's side since 1983 with Late Night, and is closing out The Late Show with him more than three decades later. Though Letterman often mocked Shaffer's bald head, he never lost is sense of humor... and could always bite back by pointing out the 68-year-old's famous tooth gap or hair piece. Their relationship, though full of jabs and jokes, was always full of love and support — like two brothers of a very strange family.
Shaffer is more than a man who can hit the keys; he's a band leader, a composer, a comedian, a co-host, and a star in his own right. I've seen a taping of The Late Show, and, let me tell you, Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra fill the entire studio with kinetic energy. Not only do they play each guest in and out, but they also provide the soundtrack to Letterman's most famous bits and improvise beautifully when the show goes off-script. They are a wonder, and Shaffer has always been their fearless leader.
As Letterman's right hand man, Shaffer was often the eyes and ears of the audience, seeing and hearing what we couldn't and never missing a beat. He also championed the talk show host through some of the show's most difficult moments, whether it was returning to the air after the 9/11 attacks and helping his friend try to connect with a very broken American audience, or cheering Letterman on after he came back from heart surgery. Shaffer never wavered; he was always there.
Of course, The Late Show was a late night variety show, and thus it was full of more laughs than it was of tears. Shaffer helped to bring those too. From his outrageous outfits to his constant abuse in sketches, Shaffer was the court jester of Letterman's kingdom. And so to you, Sir Shaffer, we tip our hats and stand in applause, for The Late Show would not have been the same without you. Thanks for sticking with us for so long, we've had a lot of fun.