You wanted it, you got it!
And this is the edited version if you can believe it.

Trip report Part Deux - The Comeback Fucking Show

The above title was uttered by Brad as we stood in the theater lobby ready to be seated.
I use it with his blessing.

As the Late Show theme resounded through the theater, Alan began his intro,

"From New York, ask us about a complimentary bypass,'s the Late Show with David Letterman."

At this point I'm squeezing the hell out of Karen and Brad's hands waiting for Dave
to make his entrance. We look up and notice the Late Show interns are indeed back,
sans sequins and garbed in full scrubs. The audience is even wilder now than during the pre show.

We are on our feet before Dave can make his way from behind the scrim.
He walks downstage and with a big smile and touches his toes to the shrieking delight
of those of us in the Ed. The sustained cheering is the best welcome we can offer.

I won't speak for the others in the group, but I would have given anything
to be able to  offer up a hug to him at that moment. I was so ecstatic to see him
back on that stage, healthy, happy and ready to roll.

In the weeks since his surgery, I've actually had thoughts of what my life would be like without Dave.
It was a prospect that saddened me so deeply I can't even begin to discuss it.
In the opening moments of the show, however, those thoughts were banished completely.
Every fear I had about how he would look, sound, and react was alleviated that night
in a matter of seconds. Dave was back in a big way.

After the audience settled down, Dave said,  "Your not gonna believe what happened to me!"
We all go nuts again.

As the monologue progressed, it was obvious that Dave was on fire.
He was funny, edgy and poked fun at the life altering events he had just gone through.
By far the best line of the night came late in the monologue as Dave was describing a bypass.

"A bypass is what happened to me when I didn't get the Tonight Show."

Wow! I've never heard Dave make a remark like that since that incident occurred.
The audience was stunned for the briefest moment and then gave Dave probably
his second biggest laugh of the night.

At some point Karen leaned over and said "Pinch me!!" I could barely bring myself
to do it because I was still having a hard time believing _I_ wasn't dreaming.

The first 20 minutes of the show was all Dave. He sat down at the desk and just went with it.
Whatever scripted bits had been planned for that show must have been dumped in favor of
just letting Dave talk. And thank god. That night wasn't the night to fill the show with prepared comedy.

It was Dave's night to prove why he's still the most powerful man in American broadcasting.
Watching him, I realized there has never been anybody better. You can argue Steve Allen,
Jack Paar and Johnny Carson ‘til the cows come home,  but I think Dave has them beat by a mile.
He proved it to me Friday night. (How's that for hyperbole!)

At the desk, Dave showed off the commemorative t-shirts we would be receiving and promised us
if the show went well we'd get to see his scar.  Amazing how many women went wild for that.
Who'd have thought a bypass scar would be sexy? I guess when it's on Dave how could it not be?

I looked around the theater at the audience, staff, crew and band during the first segment.
All eyes were glued on Dave. Nearly every person in attendance had a look of sheer joy on their face
as they watched Dave. It was touching to see so many people thrilled to have him back.
The emotion flowing through that room was so overwhelming, it was no wonder
many of us were moved to tears throughout the show.

Dave took the majority of time during the first segment to introduce the medical team and
talk candidly about his condition before the surgery.
He described a situation that was a great deal more serious than I had realized.
The main artery in his heart, to which he affectionately referred to as ConEd,
was beginning to rupture. He was told by the Doctors that had it ruptured during the angiogram,
there would have been nothing they could have done to save his life.

That one statement hit me like a brick.
For the first time it sunk in just how close a call it was.
We really could have lost him. Dave went on to bring out his team one by one and offer up
praise that was both funny and touching. Seems Dr. Lou wanted everyone to know he was
the lucky one who inserted the Foley catheter. Nice claim to fame, don't ya think??
I think me and Dr. Lou need to have a talk.

Once the team had been introduced Dave became as emotional as I have ever seen him.
His intense expression of emotion was possibly the most touching thing I have ever witnessed on television.
The sound of his voice, the look on his face, the tears in his eyes, it was all I could do
not to begin sobbing right there in the theater. Even as I write it about it now, my eyes well up.
For once I agree with Rob, people will be talking about that moment for years to come.

During the break Dave still looked emotional, but began to regroup.  He was talking casually
with the staff and preparing for Regis. He seemed glad that he was able to thank all the people
who had taken care of him. We were glad we got the chance to thank them as well.

Regis came out looking dashing as ever.
He launched into his "we're so glad to have the big man back" spiel, but it was sincere and funny.
I'm glad they had Regis back for this show. Even though he gets on my nerves
it's obvious how much he really cares for Dave. Their exchange was nothing short of hysterical,
especially when Dave referred to Reege as "little man." After Regis' segment he and Dave spoke
briefly and exchanged a heartfelt hug that did not make it on tape. It seemed obvious that Dave
appreciated having him there and that Regis was glad to be there for his friend. The interview was
a nice way to recover from the emotional overload of the first segment and get geared up for the
chaos of the next.

Robin Williams. His name alone conjures up thoughts of pure unadulterated mania and
stream-of-consciousness performance. I've always enjoyed his appearances and I figured he
would be outrageous as ever this time around. Nothing, though, could have prepared me,
or anyone else for that matter, for the next out-of-control minutes.

Robin strolled onto the stage in full operating scrubs carrying a defibrilator and Playmate cooler
labeled ‘human organs'. As you will see from the taping, it's impossible to describe his
performance accurately. I have never laughed so hard in my life. The audience response
was a continuous roar of laughter. It will be interesting to see if they keep all of the bit.

At one point, as Robin is crashing around the stage he does an 'exam' on Corky.
Corky played along, but how can you not when a crazy man is holding your crotch in his
gloved hand.  I can't even remember what kicked off the strip tease. Robin was playing
heavily off the audience and I'm pretty sure we goaded him into it.

However it started, it happened directly in front of Nick and Mark.
As Robin stripped he tossed the clothes into the audience and several of the a.f.l.
nine got pieces. Nick got the lab coat, I got a glove, Richard got a bootie and
Mark actually removed the last bootie from Robin's shoe himself.
Hopefully we all don't look like complete idiots on camera.

During the break Robin continued to dance and goof around on stage.
What energy! As with Regis, it was obvious that Robin was thrilled to be
there for Dave's return. His antics weren't a tactic to steal the show
or show off, he wanted to be great for Dave. What a guy.

During the next segment Dave announced the guest hosts for the week.
This may not be audible on the tape, but the audience reaction to the announcement of
Kathie Lee as guest host during the next segment was total shock and a mere smattering of applause.
It'll be interesting to see how she'll do Thursday. I will have to find out from a.f.l. because
I refuse to watch that sappy bitch sit at Dave's desk and try to do the show.
I doubt it will even stick to the tape.

During commercial while the band was jamming,  Anton and Taylor Hawkins got into a
killer drum exchange. All the musicians were having a great time and the audience received
the benefits. I have to say, one of my favorite parts of going to the show is listening to the band
during the breaks. The sound in the theater is perfect and the band is tight as ever.
In no way could you tell these guys hadn't played together for 5 weeks.

Dave had specially requested the Foo Fighters for his comeback show and they were more
than happy to oblige him. When Dave told the audience the band was supposed to be in
South America, David Grohl said "Ah, we blew it off."

Just another indication of how much Dave is loved. Their rendition of 'Ever Long' blew the roof
off the dump. I know there is no way the intensity of the performance could come through the TV set.
They played their hearts out for Dave. And Dave appreciated it, too. He got really got into the song,
tapping his foot and drumming on the desk, something he doesn't usually do.
At the end if the segment Dave shook hands with the band and got the sticks from Taylor Hawkins.

One more break and then Dave closed the show and headed off stage.
I couldn't believe it was over so damn soon. He came back only briefly to thank us for coming
and wish us a safe trip home. By the end of the night he looked tired and emotionally drained,
but who wouldn't have been.

Hell, _I_ was tired and emotionally drained and all I did was sit in the audience.
It was a magnificent show, though. No major conferences around the desk and Dave looked
pretty relaxed through most of it. He didn't talk with the staff as much as I had seen him do
previously, but this was a unique situation. Who knows what was really running through his mind.

There was one person missing that night, however, Lauri Diamond. I don't know why she wasn't there,
but I assumed there had been an emergency of some sort. Whatever the case, I hope all is well with Lauri.

Usually when the show ends, security and pages hustle everyone quickly out of the theater.
Friday was much different. We were told to stay seated while our commemorative T-shirts were
distributed. We were instructed to put them on or hold them up for publicity photos and a
taped standing ovation. Nick was even nice enough to duck so Karen and I could get on camera.
We were told the pics and tape would be used in promotion of the show.
Too cool!

After the photos were taken, the a.f.l. nine hung out up front for a moment enjoying the afterglow
of the show. The medical staff had congregated around the desk and were having their pics taken,
the staff and crew were hugging and talking, and we just stood there and watched it all.

As I was surveying the stage, I caught Mick McIntee's eye and motioned him over.
He was ever so glad to see us, shook hands with everybody and even handed Nick a
signed script cover. He just talked and talked and talked and talked.

Sheesh, we could get him to shut up! I thought he was going to follow us home!
I pried myself away from him for a minute and went over to say hi to Alan Kalter.
I asked if I could possibly get a cue card from that night's show and he kindly handed me
his intro, neatly typed on a blue card. It's being framed as I write.

Finally, security had enough of us standing around and politely told us
"You don't have to go home, but you got to get the hell out of here."
As we filed out, I remembered the sign had not been seen yet by anyone.
I quickly asked a very wonderful security guy named Sheldon to take a pic of us with
the sign in the outer lobby. We all lined up behind it, including Kathie who was on the phone
with Brad, Marilyn at the end with her ‘Welcome Back Regis' umbrella and got the photo.
I won't revel what the sign said just yet (gotta leave a few surprises ya know!).
The pic will be front page on the website by Wednesday night.

We went out the front of the Ed onto Broadway where there were tons of media folk filming and
photographing. Marilyn got interviewed by NY1 with her umbrella and the rest of us got on with the sign.
I don't think either made it to air, we were too a little hip for them, but at least we gave it a shot.

The group wearily made it's way down Broadway to the Stardust Diner to relax and reflect on the show.
The excitement of the day had drained all of us, but we were still happy we had made the trip.
We had witnessed not only a historical television event, but an event that we all had a
personal interest in. While we understand we are not Dave's family in the literal sense,
we all feel a closeness to him that is difficult to describe.

Thanks, Dave, for all the years of making me laugh.
Glad to have you back where you belong,
as the King of Late Night Television.


Come to the Hoosierland!!
Hoosierland Salutes David Letterman

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