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David Letterman Retires: Fallon, Kimmel, Arsenio and More Pay Tribute

“Dave showed that the only thing that matches his comic genius is his class,” says Arsenio Hall

David Letterman

David Letterman

Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS

Following David Letterman’s surprise retirement announcement yesterday, many late-night talk-show hosts, all of whom began their careers during the three decades Letterman has been on the air, have begun paying their tributes.

Jimmy Fallon, who hosts The Tonight Show – the show that Letterman was vying for when Johnny Carson said his final good night after three decades – told The Hollywood Reporter that Letterman was “the greatest.” “[He is] one of the true innovators in TV history,” he said. “He’s made us all better.”

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Jimmy Kimmel – who, like Fallon, hosts his Jimmy Kimmel Live! in a competing timeslot with The Late Show With David Letterman – called Letterman “the best there is and ever was” on Twitter.

Similarly, Seth Meyers, who now hosts NBC’s Late Night, where Letterman began his nighttime career, credited his forerunner as a trailblazer. “Late Night, this was David Letterman’s show,” he said. “If it wasn’t for David Letterman, this show wouldn’t exist. If it wasn’t for David Letterman, I wouldn’t be here.” Moreover, he added, “I grew up on David Letterman. I remember we used to memorize Top Ten lists so we could tell them on the bus the next day.”

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Finally, Arsenio Hall – who began competing against Carson on his Arsenio Hall Show in the late Eighties – acknowledged that Letterman was a “legend” as well as his competitor. But what really impressed him was the poise Letterman showed when Hall returned to late-night. “When I decided to come back to late night and compete against Dave, I received a phone call asking me to be a guest on Dave’s CBS show for the first time,” he said. “Dave put me on his show 72 hours before I debuted. Dave showed that the only thing that matches his comic genius is his class. [Late Show] might fill his time slot, but it can never fill the void he will leave behind. He is simply the best.”

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