David Letterman and his wacky ideas
David Letterman and his wacky ideas -- A "Late Show" stunt takes audience members on a trip to Florida
Last week’s Late Show trip from New York City to Miami may go down as the ultimate David Letterman gag. But watching 18 members of the standby audience eating, sleeping, and frolicking on the Florida-bound plush bus, we wondered how Dave managed to pull off this one. Herein, the anatomy of a Letterman stunt.
Step 1: Get a wacky idea; act fast. ”We planned this on Sunday night (Nov. 20),” says head writer Rob Burnett. ”I thought one person might go, so (we had) Rupert from the Hello Deli lined up.”
Step 2: Rig a questionnaire. On Monday, staffers distributed a survey to the standby audience that asked, among other things, if they were free for the next few nights. Says student Tammy Rubin, 19, ”I put yes — I wasn’t free, but who cares?” Late Show staffers upped the ante by requesting the group choose between additional Letterman tickets or appearing in a skit on the Nov. 21 telecast. Twenty-three chose the skit.
Step 3: Don’t tell anyone what’s going on. Says Rubin: ”When he said Miami, we thought it was a restaurant.”
Step 4: Be practical. ”We drove to the Lincoln Tunnel, turned around, and had two hours to get our stuff. When we met (that night), they gave us $600,” says Robert Monahan, 28, a hotel worker from Gardiner, N.Y. When they reconvened, five of the 23 members had dropped out.
Step 5: Spend, Spend, Spend. ”We thought we’d be at a Ramada Inn,” says Rubin. Instead, the group checked in to such swank establishments as Miami’s Fontainebleau. Staffers estimate the cost of the stunt at a cool $65,000.
Step 6: Do it again? ”We were thinking of asking to go to Europe.” says Monahan. Responds Burnett: ”We haven’t given that much thought.”