Letterman and the Consequences

I thought tonight’s apologies from Letterman were touching and appropriate. He voiced quite accurately what it’s like to pick up the pieces after a family or relationship disaster. Part of it, of course, may be that the quality of writing in big-league entertainment is higher than that in politics. (I know whereof I speak. I used to write speeches for politicians, and in meetings every so often I would come up with a joke that would make the room erupt in laughter. A number of times, someone would say something like, ‘Have you thought of writing for Letterman/Carson/SNL/whatever.’ I would blushingly explain that I thought of roughly three jokes a month, of which — in an especially good month — exactly one would be considered funny by anyone besides myself. When you work in comedy, you have to come up with 20 of them a day, and if fewer than ten of those work, you’re out of the business.)

But I don’t want to believe (and, in the absence of information, I don’t have to) that it’s just that kind of skill — good writers, professional presentation. What Letterman is coping with is a very real, very sad situation that could cost him his marriage. If I’m ever, God forbid, in such deep trouble, I’d want to have the kind of grace he displayed this evening.

Michael Potemra — Michael Potemra was born in Youngstown, Ohio, in 1964, and spent his childhood years in Montreal, Canada. He received a B.A. in philosophy at the Catholic University of America. He ...