Shaken Letterman mixes tears, laughter
By COLIN FREEZE, The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, September 18, 2001
NEW YORK -- Americans who turned to David Letterman last night expecting to take comfort in familiarity instead saw a reflection of their own outrage, confusion and grief.
At the first taping of the Late Show since the World Trade Center was attacked a week ago, New York's most famous funnyman dispensed with his trademark Top 10 lists and stupid pet tricks.
In fact, a distraught Mr. Letterman abandoned comedy altogether in his monologue, choosing instead to speak out against the "obscene chaos" and "abhorrent" nature of the terrorist attack.
At times, Mr. Letterman seemed on the verge of crying. He pressed his guest, CBS anchor Dan Rather, for answers. The veteran newsman twice broke down.
Firefighters and grief counsellors were among the crowd. Many said they wanted to get away from the horror of ground zero.
Laughter, members of the crowd said, would be entirely appropriate and even cathartic.
Sometimes laughter came through tears -- such as when Mr. Letterman pressed Mr. Rather for why terrorists were so angry -- "Why? They don't get cable? What's the problem?"