Looking back on Brian Williams, David Letterman's best guest

Brian Williams sheds an invisible tear on set of David Letterman
Brian Williams sheds an invisible tear on set of David Letterman's talk show, 'Late Night' on CBS.
— image credit: YouTube screenshot (CBS David Letterman)

Peeps are talking about the departure of David Letterman.

And they're either talking about his legacy – with AP's David Bauder saying the host's departure from The Late Show will "re-shape late night" television – or they're talking about his replacement. Guys like Craig Ferguson, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Conan O'Brien are heavyweight contenders, if they're interested, because of the success of their own shows. (Although, it would be hard to imagine Stewart stepping down from the show that earned him his 'Most Trusted Man America' status, wouldn't it?)

The one woman bandied about is Chelsea Handler, the star of Chelsea Lately. Someone will throw Ellen in the ring. George Lopez isn't doing anything. Personally, I'd love to see Ryan Seacrest get the primetime – well, I guess it's after primetime – he deserves, but I also know he's doing just fine doing everything he already does, and he does it quite well.

Personally, though, I'm not thinking about Dave's replacement just yet. Instead, I'm thinking about his best guest – Brian Williams.

Williams, by his own admission, has worried about taking on too many comedic roles. In his interview with Alec Baldwin – on the actor's old Here's the Thing podcast for WNYC – Williams said he asked everyone he knew what they thought of him hosting Saturday Night Live, until he finally decided to indulge himself – and he pulled it off pretty perfectly.

Williams has since slow-jammed the news and he has hosted his own talk show, although it was more of a (failed) news magazine – Rock Center.

Williams is my idol. He's my favourite anchor and has been since I first saw him. His ability to convey humour without cracking jokes is the kind of natural talent every TV man needs, but few have. (TV women, too.) Chris Gailus (at Global BC) has it. George Stephanopoulos has it, too, probably because he wasn't always a journalist.

But watching Williams on Letterman has been a delight.

Seeing his brains match with Dave's humour – the former a funny newsman, the latter an informed, newsy funnyman – allowed each to borrow from the other, and the pressure seemed to wind down when the cameras went up.

I'll miss David Letterman because I'll miss his guests. And that's the mark of a truly great host, isn't it?

*Videos below of Brian Williams on Letterman, as well as Stewart, Colbert, and Conan.

Brian Williams and David Letterman on John Boehner's crying:

"This makes me highly uncomfortable..."

Brian Williams – Late Show with David Letterman

"It's a new dawn. It's a new Dave."

Jon Stewart

"I feel like it's very Lin-sensitive."

Stephen Colbert

"The great thing about it is that I don't have to tell you."

Conan O'Brien (May 17, 2012)

"You know Jay's watching right now."

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