Stupid Sidekick Tricks: David Letterman’s 10 Best Second Bananas

From 'Bud' Melman to Dave's mom, the supporting characters who made the show — and the host — funnier

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3. Larry 'Bud' Melman

When Late Night debuted in 1982, the first person we saw on screen wasn't Dave but, rather, a disturbingly ordinary and unsmiling older man in glasses who wanted to welcome us (and warn us) about what we were about to watch. "I think it will thrill you," he said, eerily calmly. "It may shock you. It might even horrify you." That maniacally buttoned-down man, Larry "Bud" Melman, went on to become the show's de facto oddball, as if a character from a David Lynch film had wandered into the studio and taken up semi-permanent residence. One of the few Letterman sidekicks who played a fictional persona rather than himself, Melman was actually a clerk named Calvert DeForest before being discovered by Late Night writers Stephen Winer and Karl Tiedemann. Melman personified the show's after-hours, anti-showbiz aesthetic: Belting out the Entertainment Tonight theme or welcoming weary travelers at the New York Port Authority, he was marvelous anti-comedy before the term became fashionable.

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