Letterman's Next Guest Needs No Introduction

by Julie Graber | on 6 Jun 2019

I happen to think the title is brilliant: My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman. The show features in-depth interviews with guests who can be recognized by either their a first or last name, individuals who truly need no introduction. Obama, Clooney, Malala, Jay-Z, and now Ellen.

We watched the Ellen segment recently, and it did not disappoint.

One thing that is clear from the interview is Ellen’s courage and resiliency - not just in talking about the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her step-father, which has garnered most of the media attention, but with the road she has taken her entire life. I would wager that many Americans would identify Ellen as the first openly gay person they “knew,” and that their exposure to her, through either her sitcom or talk show, caused some to shift their attitudes towards homosexuality.

Credit is due to Letterman for his skill as an interviewer, which this format really showcases. The longer format reduces the need for guests to talk in sound bites and to go for the laugh. He gave Ellen an opening to talk about the abuse but was also ready to re-direct the conversation if needed. As is often the case, Ellen chose to talk about the abuse more openly than ever before with the hope that it might help someone else struggling with similar issues.

Time’s Up: Ellen’s best quote came when talking about how her mother didn’t believe her when Ellen first told her about the abuse: “When I see people speaking out, especially now, it angers me when victims aren’t believed, because we just don’t make stuff up. There are so many men that get away with so much. It is just time for us to have a voice. It’s time for us to have power.”

Funny story: I got a laugh when Ellen described the concern expressed by some network brass that America might not be ready to hear from a lesbian in the afternoon (when discussing the possibility of an Ellen-hosted talk show to replace The Rosie O’Donnell Show, which ran for six seasons and won five Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Talk Show).

Needs No Introduction: I’ve seen one other person use the “needs no introduction” phrase effectively. It was, in fact, Ellen, who introduced a music performance during the 2006 Grammys by walking on stage, saying “the next guest needs no introduction” and turning around and walking back out.

The next performer? Paul McCartney.

Final note: If Letterman’s looking for suggestions for next season - I’d like to see him add Amal to his list. Wouldn’t it be fascinating to learn more about the global justice work she does? And Michelle!

Tags:  Worth a Note