After over three decades in late night, David Letterman is retiring May 20—and he’s hoping this decision will work out as well as when he decided to leave Indiana for California and to have a child with his wife, Regina. “Those are the two biggest things in my life, and they worked out beyond my wildest dreams,” he said in an exit interview with the New York Times. “I’m pretending the same thing will happen now.”
Letterman made his late night debut back in 1982, when he began hosting NBC’s Late Night with David Letterman. He moved to CBS in 1993 to host Late Show with David Letterman, and has kept his spot there ever since. “I’ll miss it, desperately,” he told the Times. “One of two things: There will be a reasonable, adult acceptance of transition. Or I will turn to a life of crime.”
Former Colbert Report host Stephen Colbert will be taking Letterman’s desk, and though the longtime host said it will be “very interesting to see what he will do,” Letterman did admit that he was bothered when no one asked for his input on a successor. “I thought, maybe this will be a good opportunity to put a black person on, and it would be a good opportunity to put a woman on,” he told the Times before saying that he wished someone had, as a courtesy, consulted him. “But it doesn’t bother me now. At the time, I had made the decision [to leave] and I thought, okay, this is what comes when you make this decision.”
What he does have say, though is that his last Late Show won’t be like Johnny Carson’s sentimental, slightly sad Tonight finale. “I want it to be a little more cheery,” Letterman said. “And I want it to be upbeat, and I want it to be funny, and I want people to be happy that they spent the time to watch it. Of course, Johnny’s last show was historic. This one won’t be. [laughs] This one, people will say: ‘Ah, there you go. When’s the new guy starting?'”
Read the New York Times’ full Letterman interview here, and watch Letterman’s final show May 20 on CBS.