Thursday, March 22, 2007


As you may have read, 80's-era Late Night cast member, Larry "Bud" Melman died yesterday at 85 years-old.

Like many folks my age, I was a huge Letterman fan in the 80's when the show still clung a bit to its "cult" status. And Melman, with with his "Am I on TV?" mannerisms was a big part of the offbeat charm. I think I watched him 20 or 30 times before I was fully convinced he wasn't an actor, pretending to be this Melman character.

But of course, he was playing Melman: his real name was Calvert DeForest (how pathetic is it that I knew that without reading the article?). And that little dose of post-modernism was a key factor in the whole "ironic detachment"/self-consciousness that informed so much of pop culture, art, and entertainment during that period that bridged the late 80s and early-to-mid 90's.

That overused irony is (rightly) decried now, after a decade of increasingly impersonal expression in film, music, and television. But in the mid-80s, as it began to gain traction, it was freakin' liberating. Letterman, back in the day, was the anti-talk show.

And Larry Bud was one of the anti-pieces of that anti-puzzle. Rest in Peace.



Anonymous John Royal said...

Letterman is still God, primarily because Kimmel and Leno are so damn bad. True, Letterman's not as far out there as the 80s shows on NBC, like when he painted the set orange, or he did it as a morning show with Kathie Lee co-hosting, or the reverse image show. Or just the sheer strangeness of Chris Elliot's Man Under the Seat routines.

Conan is very good. And I like what Craig Ferguson tries to do, but he doesn't always pull it off.

Yeah, I was shocked when I found out that Larry "Bud" Melman was acting.

10:43 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

I can't watch any talk shows any more. They've become everything that Dave reacted against in the 80's: slick, mainstream gar-bage, with established stars promoting themselves with pre-fab, "isn't this amusing" stories.

Sickens me. Can't get near it.

11:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Yeah, something about the talk show format just kills people. I keep wondering if I remember correctly but when Leno showed up on Letterman's show back in the 80s I think he was funny. And then at some point he got replaced by a pod person.

Nothing beat the oddness of the Man under the Seats. And look what Chris Elliot turned into.

12:49 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

when Leno showed up on Letterman's show back in the 80s I think he was funny

I loved leno back in those days. He, along with Seinfeld and Wayne Cotter were hilarious every time. But talk shows and sitcoms can really knock Teh Funny out of guys.

1:13 PM  

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