The lead up to David Letterman’s last episode of The Late Show has featured a slew of tributes and well-wishes from countless celebrities, all of which culminated in Wednesday night’s star-studded final Top 10. Outside the Ed Sullivan Theater, though, Rolling Stone caught up with an equally adoring crowd: a small chunk of Letterman’s legions of fans, all of whom had fond words for the departing host.
There was the scalper who had hoped to one day make it on the show with his wild dancing, as well as a painter who’d been working outside that whole week capturing the Late Show marquee on his canvas. “He’s kind of like the Flat Iron, when he’s not here he’s gonna be missed,” the artist said of Letterman’s status as a New York institution. “He’s become a part of New York. I think he’s achieved close to what Carson achieved.”
Rolling Stone also spoke with longtime Late Show fan-favorite, Rupert Jee, the owner of the nearby Hello Deli; as well as a super fan who’s been documenting Letterman’s show since his days at NBC’s Late Night, and occasionally uses his well of knowledge to assist the writers and producers.
“Dave has been there for us for all these years, the least we could do is be here for him,” one fan said outside the Ed Sullivan Theater. “I’ve had a lot of difficult things in my life the last two years — and I could always watch David Letterman and smile.”