David Letterman is just vibing in his post-late-night TV life. If you need proof of this beyond the bushy beard that makes him look like he plays bass in Tortoise, look no further than his charming appearance on the second season premiere of Showtime's Desus & Mero this week.
The best TV interviews tend to feel like friends shooting the shit, which is a skill both Letterman and hosts Desus Nice and The Kid Mero have made careers out of. While the episode aired Monday night, the show posted a 30-plus minute extended interview and the whole thing is a joy to take in. The effortless banter between the Showtime stars and the late-night legend is funny and infectious, as they riff on topics like drinking ( “Oh, oooh, that’s right—I used to be an alcoholic. Thanks!," giggles Letterman at one point) and his under-appreciated influence on hip-hop.
It works because Letterman clearly really likes and respects Desus and Mero. "This is the show I wanted to do: if you get your buddies together and yak, there you go," Letterman says. Later, his praise was even more effusive: “When I first saw the promos that you were running on the Viceland outlet thing, I thought, 'These guys—this is it. This is the future. This is the way it ought to be.'”
Perhaps the highlight of the interview comes from Letterman's truly unhinged story about his one-time beef with Quentin Tarantino. As Letterman tells it, while he was hosting The Late Show on CBS, he was interviewing a famous actress who, at the time was dating Tarantino. For a bit, Letterman made fun of her. He explains, "And I said, ‘Now I’m joking! I’m thinking the idea is Quentin Tarantino is this movie store nerd from when you were able to go take out movies from the store. He was a self-described movie nerd. So I’m [joking] about how this glorious movie star is dating this little squirrelly guy.”
As the story progresses, Tarantino's reaction to the gentle ribbing is shocking. According to Letterman, the iconic director called two days later and said, "‘I’m going to beat you to death, I’m going to kill you. I’m coming to New York and I’m going to beat the crap out of you. How can you say that about me?'” Hearing Letterman laugh it off and call the Once Upon a Time In Hollywood… director “full blown, clinically goofy" is worth the price of admission alone. Watch the entire clip below and tune into the Tarantino story around the six minute mark.