In 1982, Late Night with David Letterman premiered on NBC. The same year, Todd Barry was an 18-year-old kid living in Florida, watching Late Night, and practicing his Paul Shaffer impression.
A teenage Todd Barry wrote to Dave, who read the letter on the air as part of the show’s “Viewer Mail” segment. Barry recently recounted this story in an interview as part of “The Letterman Effect” story we posted here, and aired on Sirius XM on “Bennington”. Now, fortunately for us, Barry has shared the video, which is an absolute must-watch.
The transcript of the letter that Todd “Razz” Barry wrote is below:
“Dear Dave, Dear DEAR Dave, Here’s the situation: I do an unbelievable impression of Paul Schaeffer. Here are your options: A. fly me to New York, pay for everything and I’ll do the impression on your show, or B. call me and I’ll do it over the phone.
So go ahead Dave, pick either A or B. Either way I’m sure it will turn out to be a real nifty gig.
Your Pal and Idol,
Todd “Razz” Barry
Near Ft. Lauderdale, FL”
Dave calls Barry, who Dave describes as “a man with a lot of time on his hands,” in the segment. Barry does his Shaffer impression after sneaking in a sarcastic jab to Dave.
The second half of the video is from 1984, when Barry wrote to Letterman again to mark the two-year anniversary of his Paul Shaffer impression. Letterman’s response after this follow-up letter is sharp and classic Dave. Please watch until the end to see how Todd “Razz” Barry is dismissed.
Luckily, the dismissal was not permanent. Years later, “Razz” appeared on Letterman’s show as a stand-up comic.