David Letterman's Secret Joke-Writing Weapon

Posted on January 18, 2005

Late night hosts need a lot of material and David Letterman has a secret weapon for coming up with jokes. MSNBC reports that the secret weapon Letterman has in his joke arsenal is Johnny Carson. CBS senior vice president Peter Lassally, a onetime producer for both Letterman and Carson, spilled the beans. He said that the 79-year-old former host of NBC's The Tonight Show occasionally sends Letterman new jokes he has written and that Letterman sometimes incorporates them into his nightly monologue.

"I think the thing he misses the most is the monologue," Lassally said of his former boss. "He reads the newspaper every day and might think up five good jokes that he wishes he had an outlet for. Once in a while he sends jokes to Letterman and Letterman will use his jokes in the (Late Show) monologue and he gets a big kick out of that." Carson was the host of The Tonight Show for 30 years, before retiring in 1992. Jay Leno won the spot as host, but -- according to Lassally -- Carson always thought that Letterman was his rightful successor.

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