David Letterman gave his final show last night, a fairly straightforward affair filled with Late Show-highlight montages, including Letterman's 1996 Taco Bell drive-though segment, and a Top Ten list delivered by Letterman favorites including Steve Martin, Tina Fey, Jerry Seinfeld and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Closing out a week of teary, heartfelt send-offs from his younger late-night competitors -- Jimmy Kimmel even showed a re-run last night, as not to detract from Letterman's viewership -- the night was mostly spent making fun of himself and skewering the concept of the self-serious late-night farewell. With Late Show's folksy devotion to jokes about pie, canned hams and drunk uncles, the show often felt like a direct product of its host's origins -- Letterman was born in 1947 and raised in Indiana -- and that midwestern modesty and disinclination toward emotion was on full display last night. "In light of all this praise, merited or not, do me a favor," Letterman told the audience, "save a little for my funeral."
He also thanked CBS executives, including Les Moonves, who he had a famously tense relationship with, his viewers and his employees, many of whom would do recurring bits on the show, including stage manager Biff Henderson.
But for all of Letterman's self-effacing jokes, there were a few moments when he let his guard down, including a nod to his mother, who would frequently appear on the episode before Thanksgiving to have her son guess what kind of pie she had made, and the introduction of his wife and his 11-year-old son, Harry. Harry's friend that he brought along, Tommy Ribato, was also introduced. Watch clips from the finale below.
The show cold-opened with this montage of presidents Ford through Obama ensuring America that their long, national nightmare was finally over.
The Top Ten List: Top Ten Things I've Always Wanted to Say to Dave
Letterman's 1996 Taco Bell drive-through segment
A day in the life of David Letterman
Letterman thanks his viewers and his wife and son (as well as his son's friend, Tommy Ribato)