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Episode 93

Late Night Comedy & Musical Ephemera featuring Steve O’Donnell and Steve Young

Episode  93
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We are fully stocked on Steves! Legendary, luminary Late Show and Late Night Letterman writers Steve O’Donnell and Steve Young join us for an insider’s look at behind-the-scenes life within the Late Night and Late Show Letterman eras.

And in the waning weeks of Dave’s CBS years, Steve Young was in full production on the documentary which celebrates his deep dive into corporate and industrial musicals, Bathtubs Over Broadway (Now on Netflix.) How did one Steve launch the other into this particularly specific passion orbit? All is revealed.

More Path Links

Steve O'Donnell

Steve O'Donnell on Wikipedia

Steve O'Donnell on IMDB

Top Ten Books by David Letterman and Steve O'Donnell

David Letterman Top Ten Moments by Steve O'Donnell

Steve Young

Steve Young World

Bathtubs Over Broadway

Bathtubs Over Broadway on Netflix

Everything's Coming Up Profits by Steve Young and Sport Murphy

Steve Young on Instagram and Twitter

Letterman's Youtube Channel
Letterman Fan Site

Letterman Archivist Don Giller

Don Gillar's Letterman Archive on Youtube

Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night by Jason Zinoman

Jimmy Saville: A British Horror Story on Netflix

Anatomy of a Scandal - Netflix 

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Louise Palanker (00:00:04):

Welcome to Media Path. I'm Louise Palanker.

Fritz Coleman  (00:00:06):

And I'm Fritz Coleman.

Louise Palanker (00:00:07):

If our show were part of the nineties late night TV lineup, we'd be the show that comes on after the show that comes on after Dave. So it'll go Dave Ted Coppel test pattern. You would drift off and then be jerked awake by us. But today's show may actually get your semi-conscious attention because we are welcoming two of Dave's prize-winning writers, both Steve's, which is the name they were issuing to mid-century funny babies. We have Steve O'Donnell and Steve Young, or as they were referred to on their season of The Bachelorette, Steve o and Steve Y. But first, Fritz, what are you recommending?

Fritz Coleman  (00:00:43):

I'm gonna, I wanna talk about Anatomy of a Scandal. This is a new series that just dropped last week on Netflix. It's five episodes long. It's a British production, but it's co-produced and co-written by David E. Kelly, who I love, and he knows how to spin a yarn. It, it's, it's a British production. It's about a parliamentary minister James White House, who's a happily married man. He thought, they thought with a loving family. He thought they thought a wife, two kids. But then a scandalous secret comes to life. It's based on a book by Sarah Vaughn. It's not a true story, but it's based on Vaughn's experiences covering British sex scandals as a courtroom reporter. It's about parliamentary intrigue. It's about the British court system. It's about wig wearing solicitors. It's about the Me Too topics of the current day. The story probes. And it's interesting the nature of consent as in sexual consent.


That is, if a couple has an ongoing sexual relationship, and at one single moment they have sex that's a little rougher than their usual and not invited by the female partner, can it be considered rape? It's pretty interesting. They get very real about sex in an elevator, and they do some semi biological play by play. But because all the dialogue is in the British accent, it doesn't seem shocking. It seems more like an episode of Nova. The leads are Sienna Miller, as Sophie White House and Rupert Friend as James White House. It is definitely a conversation starter between couples. I liked it. I thought it was great.

Louise Palanker (00:02:17):

Well, I'm midway through it, so I, I recommend it. It's very intriguing in, in a dark, sort of sinister way. I mean, you don't know who to root for because everyone, they keep, they kind of keep flashing back to college days where more raucous behavior was perhaps not me, tood in a way that it, that it currently is. And so we looked at things go differently. Go ahead, Steve. Yeah, Steve, I

Steve Young (00:02:44):

Have to, I have to go answer my

Fritz Coleman  (00:02:46):

Buzz's. Go do it. That's

Louise Palanker (00:02:46):

Steve's look. He

Steve O'Donnell (00:02:48):

Has <laugh>. Maybe I can take this, uh, opportunity to introduce myself. I am the Steve in the room, so we'll call my, we'll call me room. Steve <laugh>, the other Steve. Well, you can call Zoom Steve. Right? Perfect. Since he's, uh, in New York, and he's going to pick up a u p s package, which is the kind of thing that, you know, happens when you do a, a live show or live to tape, I guess. Do

Louise Palanker (00:03:09):

You think that he'll be willing to unbox live for us?

Steve O'Donnell (00:03:12):

Oh, what if it's something tedious like tax forms or estimated tax coupons, or,

Louise Palanker (00:03:17):

Well, it also

Fritz Coleman  (00:03:18):

Could, so it's probably the best part of his day, <laugh>. So let's not take the joy away from him.

Steve O'Donnell (00:03:22):

I will say that Zoom, Steve has a lot of eccentric hobbies mm-hmm. <affirmative> that we, we might get into eventually. So who knows? It could be anything. Do you

Louise Palanker (00:03:30):

Wanna take bets on what he would've ordered?

Steve O'Donnell (00:03:32):

Um, maybe it's an old, uh, brownie camera from 1929 that has some, uh, undeveloped, uh, but exposed film in it that he'll take to a dark room and

Fritz Coleman  (00:03:43):

Develop, or a recording of, of, uh, of a musical about, um, pistons.

Steve O'Donnell (00:03:48):

Yes. Or, or, uh, perhaps, uh, silicate gels or some such thing. <laugh>. Yes, Steve.

Fritz Coleman  (00:03:55):

I Now, we can't wait to find out original.

Louise Palanker (00:03:57):

Anyway, cast album. Anyway. All right. So I'm gonna talk about something that he's really not gonna enjoy returning to his camera to hear me saying, but I have not exactly enjoyed, but I have been enlightened by Jimmy Sll, a British horror story on Netflix. So both of our picks are very British and very Netflix. This week, Jimmy Saval was for decades, a beloved UK TV personality. Shortly after his death in 2011, an investigation prompted more than 450 horrific allegations of sexual assault and abuse of children with victims as young as five. You may not have heard of Jimmy Sve and the Staged, but for the Brits, this was like discovering that Santa Claus, Dick Clark, and Mother Teresa are child molesters. It's a punch. Jimmy Savill hosted top of the Pops. He DJ'ed on Radio One and Helm a Saturday Kid show called Jim Will Fix It, where he made dreams come true for children.


He was on stage at concerts introducing the Beatles or The Stones. He was besties with Prince Charles and Margaret Thatcher, his eccentric persona, complete with wild patterned outfits, a giant cigar and a bleached print. Valiant haircut presented him as a man apart. He defies definition and is thereby beyond judgment. This is how he groomed an entire nation. The vast expanse and volume of his charity work not only solidified his placement above reproach, it also gained him access to children, sick children, paralyzed children. He did not just raise money for hospitals. He lived in them and had the run of them volunteering, shuttling kids in and out of rooms, showcasing his selfless acts with cameras present while violating kids around every private corner. Why was he not stopped and prosecuted within his lifetime? The UK and the BBC will need to answer that, but there were a lot of important and powerful people who benefited from this story remaining caught and killed. Like Bill Cosby, Michael Jackson, Harvey Weinstein, Woody Allen. He was too big to fail. You will find Jimmy Savill a British horror story on Netflix. And Fritz, you watched

Fritz Coleman  (00:05:54):

This. Yeah. It was just very haunting. But it was a great study of the culture of personality and sort of a really extreme example of what we just experienced in this country for five years and, and how, uh, fame is his own cachet. I mean, prince Charles was writing this guy letters asking him for public relations advice on how, for how the royal family should conduct themselves. I mean, there was, every door in British government was open to him. It was creepy. But the creepiest thing about this was, if you can see the picture of him, he looks like Woody Allen in a wig, which creeped me out from the minute I started watching.

Steve O'Donnell (00:06:34):

Yes, I would think that, uh, you'd be suspicious of his grooming un entire nation, just based on the way he groomed his own morelock, like hair

Everyone (00:06:42):

<laugh> morelock, like hair <laugh>. Yes, exactly.

Louise Palanker (00:06:46):

There's like different, definitely various incarnations of this hairdo as he, as he proceeds through the years. But it, each one is more disturbing than the last. Okay. We have live in the studio returning from his front door. A Steve Young, rich with package.


teve Young (00:07:03):

Yes. Uh, I, I have a, a package which I now have back upstairs with me. Uh, we, if you, if you want to have a big reveal at the end of the show, we could, uh, we could see what I got. It could actually be slightly fun to look at for 30 seconds. Definitely.

Louise Palanker (00:07:18):

Now, there's a man who understands the hour clock of television. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> the big teases. So I'm gonna introduce our, our guests, Fritz. Would that be

Fritz Coleman  (00:07:26):

Good? I can't wait to talk to both of them.

Louise Palanker (00:07:28):

The brilliantly amusing Steve O'Donnell worked on Letterman nearly since the show's inception. Steve served as head writer from 1983 through 1992. The iconic top 10 list was curated under Steve's masterful guidance. It was a group think type of genius, but I like to credit mostly Steve, because he's the guy. Dave needed to write the books interjecting.

Steve O'Donnell (00:07:45):

Well, I'm just saying. Yes, I did put the books together. Yeah. And I did write the introductions, but there are half a dozen people that, uh, it's, it's, uh, little like the, the, the beneficiaries and Howard Hughes as well. <laugh>. There's a lot of, uh, contesting, um, individuals who, uh, come forward and they all deserve credit. Um,

Louise Palanker (00:08:04):

Can I finish your bio, though? Yes. I mean, that's really nice. But I was reading during Letterman's final season, Steve wrote and spoke about his time as head writer on the show, and completed his own list of the show's Top 10 Moments for the New York Times. Steve went on to work as the head writer for Jimmy Kimmel live from the show's debut in 2003 until 2008. He occasionally appeared in bits as well. Steve has worked as a head writer and producer on the Bonnie Hunt show, the Dana Carvey show, norm McDonald Live. Why with Hannibal Burs on Comedy Central and Norm McDonald has a show for Netflix. He has appeared in on-screen roles in strangers with Candy and the Sarah Silverman program. Steve has won four Emmys and the Writer's Guild of America, herb Sergeant Award for Comedy Excellence, and he has appeared on each of my various and sundry podcasts.


Welcome Steve <laugh>. Thank you. And then here comes the equally impressive bio of Young Steve Young. For 25 years, Steve Young wrote for Letterman on both Late Night and The Late Show. He's also written for The Simpsons, and he wrote The Emmy nominated Mac Grinning, produced Animated Christmas Special Olive. The other reindeer see's most recent credits include Lauren Michaels, Maya and Marty, and NBC Variety show. Harry Con Jr show Harry and HBO's night of too many stars a Harvey graduate. Steve is brilliantly profiled, and David Ws award-winning comedy, music, documentary Bathtubs Over Broadway now on Netflix. Welcome, Steve's. Do you two remember your first encounter?

Steve O'Donnell (00:09:27):

Oh, and probably yet my Twin Brothers apartment. That's memorable, right? Didn't, weren't you staying with, uh, Marco O'Donnell for a week or two when you first got to New York City?

Steve Young (00:09:37):

Yes. Uh, fall of 1989. That's probably the first time we met in person, although I do remember, uh, calling you at the late night program in the late eighties, and it's miraculous to me that you had the time to a answer, a phone call from a stranger. But I was like, about to graduate from college and wanted to be a comedy writer. Oh, when I know what I'll do, I'll call the head writer at the Letterman Show, <laugh>. He's got nothing better to do than chat with me in the mid-afternoon on a weekday. Somehow he chatted, Amy believe with for a few minutes with me, and made me feel like, uh, at least I, who knows what would happen to me, but at least there were friendly people in the business. So that was a

Fritz Coleman  (00:10:17):

Very, well, what is it about Harvard University, you two guys, um, Colin Jost and, um, Conan O'Brien. What is, is it the Lampoon work or, uh, I mean, some of the most brilliant guys coming outta Harvard,

Steve O'Donnell (00:10:32):

I and, and women, we should assert. Um, I, I, I think it's a paradox. I I think it actually doesn't make any sense, <laugh>, because Harvard is, is, is pretty straight laced and pretty, uh, earnest. And maybe that's why it is such a, an oasis of, uh, zaniness for those undergraduates who have an impulse to, to work on the, a magazine and cut to cartoon and to be part of a publication.

Fritz Coleman  (00:10:57):

Did you all do the Landon?

Steve O'Donnell (00:10:58):

Uh, yes, both of us did. We were that lucky, that fortunate. And it, it, you hear it as the, as the graduates get older and older, they all say, oh, but it wasn't a, an automatic springboard into show business the way it sort of is now. Um, the year or two before me, there was a, a, a, a fantastic writer who remains a giant and a legend named Jim Downey, who graduated from the Lampoon and went to work for Saturday Night Live. And that was the sort of first connection of that sort. There had been a couple of graduates who had put together the National Lampoon, uh, Henry Beard and Doug Kenny, and I remember seeing that in high school and just going, wow. They know what they're doing. They're doing it right. And that only happens every couple of years where you see something that's like Key and Peel or Second City tv, and you just go, wow. They really know what they're doing. It's a perfect, um, so there was a little bit of a, a lampoon aura about it already. Uh, Steve, by the time you were there, you overlapped a bit with, uh, who were some of your peers, uh, in the nineties or late eighties?

Steve Young (00:12:05):

Yeah. Uh, Conan O'Brien was the president when I got on the staff. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, uh, there were plenty of other funny people around that really made me think, oh, maybe this is a thing I should do with my life. I think it was the case that, uh, Harvard had this well-established humor magazine. I don't think we had funnier, uh, students necessarily than any other decent college, but there was just this momentum of here's this thing right in front of you that is showing you, you could work on this, and then look at all these graduates who've gone on to things like the Letterman Show or Saturday Night Live. That was kind of my, uh, awakening that, oh, that's a career. I had no idea. And I can only imagine there are many similar types of men and women at that young age who don't get that, uh, sort of prompt from where they happen to be going to college.

Louise Palanker (00:12:57):

Right. So it awakens the

Steve O'Donnell (00:12:59):

Possible. Yes. And we should acknowledge that a, it of course, it is a, a boon and a help and a leg up, uh, to have done it, but it is not always a a plus. It's a plus and a minus. I've been on shows where they go, no, no more Lampoon people. Uh, because it's just too many west pointers in your platoon, you know, <laugh> and Conan O'Brien himself, I don't know if the word suffered is exactly the right verb, but he applied for a job on the Letterman shown. It was between him and a pretty funny writer from, uh, um, Tulsa, Oklahoma named Boyd Hale. And I was going over it with Dave. Well, uh, who do we like? And he said, we got enough enough with the Lampoon people, let's go with the, the, the Okie. So, uh, we passed by, we passed by Kona O'Brien, but he went to Saturday Night Live. And, uh, I, I don't know what happened to him after that. I,

Steve Young (00:13:48):

I think he ended up in banking or something, but I mean,

Louise Palanker (00:13:51):

He's okay. He landed on his feet.

Steve Young (00:13:53):

I have definitely heard that. It's loud now, the shorthand for what we don't want anymore of, oh, we don't need any more of those Harvard Lampoon type people. No, that's the cliche now of what, uh, we already have too much of. So, so it can be good and bad

Louise Palanker (00:14:07):

Things go in waves.

Fritz Coleman  (00:14:09):

I don't think the public would perceive that though, would they? That was just an inside baseball

Steve O'Donnell (00:14:15):

Who, the public, um, who would they know? They'd know Colin Jost. They'd know some of the SNL people, but whether they even feel there's a, a Harvard, like the really early, uh, public figures who were, who were Harvard Lampoon grads did have sort of a Harvard character to them. Like Fred Gwen, who was Herman Munster, he did sort of bear himself like a Harvard man, you know? And

Fritz Coleman  (00:14:38):

Did that get locked

Steve O'Donnell (00:14:38):

Draw? Yeah. And, um, also, uh, uh, your paper lion helped me. George Plimpton, he, he definitely had the, the Harvard accent. Um, but of course that's not funny. It's, it's like they have to be thirst and Howell to be funny and have a, have a Harvard accent. There

Louise Palanker (00:14:56):

Are those who scoff at Coastal Elites. Elites. And so things go in waves. And of course, you guys are really smart and really excellent at what you do.

Steve O'Donnell (00:15:05):

But, but, but everyone is waiting for a bucket of paint to fall out either of our heads. Really. That

Steve Young (00:15:10):

Would be the truth. But I'll say, by the time you showed up in the early seventies, and then me in the mid eighties, there was a preponderance of Harvard students who had gone to public schools and were even on financial aid. And I know you and I are both from families with, uh, solid, good middle class blue collar backgrounds. Right. So we are not from a long line of legendary lawyers and, uh, blue

Louise Palanker (00:15:37):


Fritz Coleman  (00:15:38):

Legacy children.

Steve O'Donnell (00:15:39):

Yes. I try to dispel the, uh, disdain and contempt early on by going, I was a scholarship student. I'm the ninth of 10 brothers and sisters. My dad's a welder. Your dad, uh, was an airplane mechanic for decades and decades. I think that was one thing we could bond over, I think, ear an early conversation, uh, between us was do you own any steel towed shoes? <laugh>? And we both did. We both had at least one pair.

Louise Palanker (00:16:04):

Yeah. So how much overlap was there? How many years did you guys work together on the show?

Steve O'Donnell (00:16:08):

Two or three.

Steve Young (00:16:10):

You hired me in April of 1990.

Steve O'Donnell (00:16:13):

All right. So, so, well, I was still around for a few. I was head writer till 93 and then, and then lingered in some capacity for another year or two, and then came and went for different special projects. And that's been true up until this past month or so. Um, and then we have, but we, but we have kept a friendship up right along.

Fritz Coleman  (00:16:33):

Let me ask you a question about the hiring. How, how involved is Dave in the hiring? Does he trust you and like, tell me later who you hired, or is he involved in the selection process?

Steve O'Donnell (00:16:41):

I'd say he's involved. He always reads packages. You know, it's, uh, uh, and occasionally he'd be moved by, uh, uh, standups performance. You, he

Louise Palanker (00:16:52):

Read my package and said, Nope.

Steve O'Donnell (00:16:54):

Well, that's not exactly what happened. I mean, he, it might have ultimately not been. Yes.

Louise Palanker (00:16:58):

No, the exciting news, Steve, was that he had taken home my package and then nothing. So, well, I think it was a hard pass.

Steve Young (00:17:06):

<laugh>, the Hollywood no <laugh>.

Steve O'Donnell (00:17:09):

Well, as a writer, it was always like, no one ever really, it's just, we're not picking up your option <laugh>. That's usually how, how

Steve Young (00:17:15):

It goes. But as I recall, Steve, you probably had read my, uh, submission in early 1990 when there was some turnover on the staff. And I do recall being invited by you to come up to, uh, tour around the office with you and maybe say hello to Dave. So clearly there was a, a layer of it, of he looks good on paper, but let's just make sure he is not gonna creep everybody out. <laugh>,

Steve O'Donnell (00:17:38):

There's, there is an element of that. Yes, the hygiene check and the, uh, but

Fritz Coleman  (00:17:44):

What, what's included in your package, if you'll excuse the expression,

Steve O'Donnell (00:17:47):

<laugh> <laugh>.

Fritz Coleman  (00:17:49):

I mean, what, what did you submit like, uh, uh, 15 pages of jokes or, I mean, what was the package?

Steve Young (00:17:55):

I think at that point I had had various, uh, bits of material that it had been used. I worked on, not necessarily the news for a little bit, I had a couple good pieces out of that. I sent the scripts for, I think I'd written some pieces for National Lampoon that had gotten published, but I probably also did some just miscellaneous ideas specifically for the Letterman show and maybe some top tens. I know in later years. It was a very specific, uh, here's a list of things to work on. If you wanna make a submission, here's a top 10 topics.

Steve O'Donnell (00:18:28):

Oh yeah, come on. It got to be very, it got to be very, um, uh, fill in the blanks kind of application process. But, uh, up through my head writer ship, it was just, uh, catches catch. Can we, of course, people would send in their novels and their short stories, and you'd go like, well, this doesn't really help me <laugh>. Uh, my own submission to Merrill Marco, the original head writer, Berkeley grad, um, included drawings and, um, sort of schematic things to show how things would look. And she was, I think she liked that, cuz you understand that there was a visual element to television. But what I recall about your submission, Steve, is that the, the type of odd, slightly goofy, surreal lines that you were putting were so short and clean. I knew they would appeal to Dave. I mean, a classic Steve Young line, if I may quote you and probably misquote you, is that, you know, we have, uh, nyquill for you, your, when you have your sore throats and, uh, colds at nighttime, you have day quill, you know, but what for daytime. But what do you do when there's an eclipse? And then they would show eclipse quill, <laugh> for that medicine you've taken. Uh, just not, not something you'd compare to anyone else. And so that

Louise Palanker (00:19:40):

Was a nice thing. Well, so Steve O'Donnell in your New York Times piece refer to running bits like the top 10 list as Repeatables. Talk about their importance in creating a daily program and remind us of some other memorable repeatables and their respective lifespans.

Steve O'Donnell (00:19:55):

Uh, well, some went on forever View were male. You're doing a show every night. You, if you were, if you were doing it cutting each one from whole cloth, uh, it would be almost impossible. E even when you're a kid, you, the comic books you read and the magazines you read, you know, there's these different departments and things that reappear. The back page is like this, the center spread is like this. Um, uh, they did viewer mail in the first week or two of the show, and I think they continued to do it right up and through the, through the end. But anything you can, the top 10, certainly, and there were many times Dave was very close to like, we gotta retire this, where this is, uh, we gotta be ahead of the crowds on this. We can't keep doing. But it always came back by popular demand. And also it was not effort went into it, but it was not taxing from a production perspective. All you needed was a Chiron machine. By the way, by the end of my, my, uh, my Letterman career, all my sisters and brothers were like, oh, is that the Chiron that we're looking at now? Or is, or is like, or they sort of got all this,

Fritz Coleman  (00:20:58):

Chiron puts the, they

Steve O'Donnell (00:20:59):

Got the link, the lexicon, yeah. Oh, is that the Dubin there and the cyclorama,

Louise Palanker (00:21:05):

You learn how to stop with your siblings.

Fritz Coleman  (00:21:07):

Talk about the advent of the top 10 list and what, what made you feel like this would be a, a brilliant idea? I, I think I have the story right

Steve O'Donnell (00:21:15):

About there. There's no disputing that it was the single, uh, uh, afternoon where the New York Daily News, or perhaps Newsday had a list of top 10 eligible bachelor's and included William Paley, who at that point was 89. I had worked at the Museum of Broadcasting and was familiar with Paley. So I was going around showing the list going, isn't this ridiculous? And, uh, many people at the simultaneous were going, let's do our own. We should do our own. My thought was, it takes nothing to do these. They, they have absolutely no credentials or validity, so anyone could do them. The spirit of them, the style of the best of them was based on a, a a, a kind of, not a top 10 list, but a, a kind of list they used to do on the new show that Jim Downey was behind. The Afor mentioned genius who towers like a colossus above all, uh, um, recent comedy.


And, um, uh, Randy Cohen recommended it, uh, uh, uh, Kevin Curran recommended it. He actually wrote the very first top 10 list, which was top 10 words that almost rhyme with peas, <laugh>. Yes. And, um, I, I think the, I think the image to use is that we were so desperate for things to do over and over and over again that, uh, this seeing, this top 10 list, what followed subsequently was like a bunch of people on a desert island, a crate full of food washes on shore. Whose idea is it to eat the food, you know, <laugh>. So, uh, I think it has a many fathers like the internet.

Fritz Coleman  (00:22:44):

How do the writing assignment go? Did one person write the top 10?

Steve O'Donnell (00:22:47):

Sometimes. Sometimes, yes. Uh, uh, but, but as the show went on and on, it got to be more of a grab bag. Everybody would write a couple, um, the head writer would pitch the 30 or 40 best ones by their lights. Dave would sometimes kick in a couple, and certainly during the writer strikes, Dave would write them completely by himself. And it was funny because we, uh, like to keep it to two panels another term for, um, but when Letterman would write them, they would sometimes be three at four panels. So he allowed himself more verios, uh, than he sometimes would. But that makes sense. He knew, he knew what he was willing to say. Um,

Steve Young (00:23:23):

I have a question, if I may ask. Uh, did Bill Paley ever find somebody nice <laugh>?

Steve O'Donnell (00:23:32):

No. I, I think he had to find solace with his, uh, with his Picassos and his Dom Perino cellar. Oh wow.

Steve Young (00:23:39):

That sounds like a gilded nightmare. <laugh>. But in later years, we kept doing top 10 right up to the end in 2015. And some days it went together easily some days not, uh, more and more it was based on things in the news. Just current events topic. Yes. Some of our favorites were the weird ones. I always remember, I think this was during your tenure, Steve Top 10 Keebler elf Euphemisms for Death,

Fritz Coleman  (00:24:06):


Steve Young (00:24:07):

That is already, it's a home run before on

Steve O'Donnell (00:24:10):

The cooling rack.

Steve Young (00:24:11):

<laugh> on the cooling rack

Steve O'Donnell (00:24:12):

Is my favorite thing. Well, yes, I, I agree with you because again, the first one words that almost rhyme with peas was just absurd. And the other ones that were always close to my heart were like, the ways the world would be different if it was run by dogs, things like that. So the ones that were just like Dan Quail or Donald Trump, it was just like, okay, we sort of know what's gonna be coming here.

Fritz Coleman  (00:24:32):

The the ones I really loved were the special ones, like the Mothers and Father's Day ones, when you would get the Mothers of Stars to come out and meet you their own one or the fathers, because they were just uncomfortable enough to make this stuff even funnier. And I love

Steve O'Donnell (00:24:46):

The, yes, I think that that's a, a, a pillar of the Letterman show appeal was having people who weren't quite, uh, broadcast professionals delivering, uh, lines in front of a camera, whether they were stage hands or whether they were a Secretary of state, or they, they weren't necessarily adept, uh, or, or agile in front of a camera. Um, yeah.

Louise Palanker (00:25:11):

Well, um, here's Awkward Timing. Thomas, could you bring up the list of the memor top 10 memorable moments? It's under, let's see, Steve's list of, where did I put that? The

Steve O'Donnell (00:25:21):

New York Times

Louise Palanker (00:25:22):

One. Yeah. New York Times. Cuz I wanna see if Steve Young has any dissenting opinions about the,

Steve Young (00:25:28):

I'm gonna be like Mr. Letterman and cross off six of them at the last minute

Steve O'Donnell (00:25:32):

<laugh>. By the way, this, when, when you, it was truly a Yankee dollar when you got a approval from Letterman, uh, something solid because the vast majority of things would be like, no, no, no, no. Uh uh, the worst thing would be, Lord, no, Lord, no. And, but then you would sometimes get a, Hmm, I don't mind that. I don't mind that too much. And that would be like, that would be like angels coming through the clouds.

Fritz Coleman  (00:26:01):

What were the third rails with Dave? What, what, what, what could you, what areas of life could you avoid and be safe,

Steve O'Donnell (00:26:08):

<laugh>? Well, I will tell one, I'll, I'll give you one specific only because it also happens to illuminate the character of Jimmy Kibble. When I went to the Kimmel Show, um, a b ABC had like a mini-series about Hitler, where they was a fictional bag. It was called Hitler, the mini-series. And, um, I proposed mini Hitler, the series where we'd have a little person playing Hitler, who's always high hele Hitler into their groin and sophisticated jokes like that <laugh>. And, and Kimo was amuse. And I said, you know, Letterman wouldn't even, I I couldn't even pitch a, uh, uh, uh, anything involving little people or midgets because Letterman used to tell me, uh, Stephen, unlike most comedy writers, I don't automatically find something funny because a midget is involved. And, uh, Kimmel just said, <laugh>, that's where Dave and I are different <laugh>. He wasn't entirely serious. And of course, uh, the not using the little person word was just the, uh, the, uh, authentic jargon of the time. But anyway, kibble had a sense of humor about his own tastes and so on. And no bigger Letterman fan in

Fritz Coleman  (00:27:17):

The entire No, I know that he openly admits that.

Louise Palanker (00:27:20):

Does it sting to have Dave kind of crossing things off publicly?

Steve O'Donnell (00:27:25):

Not really. I mean, uh, uh, your job is to give him what he wants and you want him to be happy out there. Uh, also, you, you, this is why you want him in on the choosing the writers as well because you, they've gotta, you wanna feel a simpatico with his voice. It's a tricky thing. You want, you want different voices, but they also have to harmonize or at least, uh, make a chord. Yeah. Yeah. So

Fritz Coleman  (00:27:51):

What was the, just lemme ask one more question cause I wanna get to your thing. I'm so interested in it, but while we're on this topic, what was the percentage of accepted jokes presented to Dave compared to the total number of jokes you would present to him on a daily

Steve O'Donnell (00:28:03):

Basis? Oh, I mean, more rejected than accepted, but I think it varied from day to day. Occasionally where there were writers involved who were just so good. Like Tom Gael and Max Pro, who did the, they took my show away. He probably went with 98% of it if he changed anything at all. But I think most things, he, some things he liked better than others, it depended on mood and everything. But his taste was good and he knew what he wanted. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And how do you argue with that?

Louise Palanker (00:28:31):

And that's, I think that is one of the definitions of success as a person who has a very clean view of where they want to go in the world and can make, you know, kind of quick on their feet moves and decisions that are usually correct or usually

Steve O'Donnell (00:28:47):

Wise. Yes. And those areas that aren't crystal clear, there's at least an instinctual feeling, right? Yes. We even the writers would go, we know Dave's not gonna put on a funny hat and we know he is not going to do this and that, but eventually he would do things like,

Louise Palanker (00:29:00):

But he liked Yeah, go ahead.

Steve O'Donnell (00:29:02):

Well, I, for years, people would pitch, Dave talks with kids and, you know, he'd say, what am I, art Link letter? No. But then eventually he tried it once and it went so well

Louise Palanker (00:29:13):

That maybe after he had

Steve O'Donnell (00:29:15):

Persuaded, and I only say that because he was, he was, um, he was, um, amenable open to he, he there he could try things and be persuaded, but I mean, again, this is a very smart, very funny guy. This isn't like a a a a blank slate that you have to pour things on. He was, he's fine on his own. To be a writer is to be, you're privilege to be a partner in the whole

Fritz Coleman  (00:29:38):

Proceedings. And very unlike Art Link letter, cuz he had just been a snark where he was like the WC Fields character lording over this kid. <laugh>. But he, but he never made the kid uncomfortable, but he was so darn. Yes.

Louise Palanker (00:29:51):

Well, what was interesting about that was that kids got him, like kids got it immediately. They they understood the tone and they reacted in kind.

Steve O'Donnell (00:29:59):

Yeah. Well it, it would become conceptually complicated because he would sometimes use an old art Link letter device like, are you married? Yeah. <laugh>. And a kid would be very, they'd be struck because it was like, you're showing me this respect as if you think I'm an adult. But, uh, um, but there were other things that had tried. I think Kimmel uh, has, has done amazingly well with kids, even though he, he tiptoes very closely to the cruel, you know, like when they take away the Halloween candy or pretend Who, and then the kid, you'll have to see them look them up online. There, there, there's, there's a moment of, of you're appalled and you're, you're sickened. Uh, but then you come around and, and laugh and a a, a shock and a gasp that then leads to laughter is sometimes the best. That

Louise Palanker (00:30:43):

The best the best. It's like, is it okay to laugh? And then once you do, you explode. So this is an article, you can set this up Steve and who asked you to do it and, uh, upon the occasion,

Steve O'Donnell (00:30:54):

Are you commenting who asked you to do it?

Louise Palanker (00:30:57):

No, no. I'm wondering how

Steve O'Donnell (00:30:58):

You were That's like my folks who asked

Louise Palanker (00:30:59):

You, how was this work? Commissioned Young sir.

Steve O'Donnell (00:31:02):

Um, uh, a New York Times editor. I think I had written a few things for them Spottily in the years before

Louise Palanker (00:31:09):

That. Your, your voice works quite nicely in print. It's very fun to read. So this was, so you put together a top 10 list of moments and I, I'm not e exactly sure how you curated or you know, what you used to do your research to prepare this,

Steve O'Donnell (00:31:22):

This, but none whatsoever entirely based on my, my memory and my gut feelings. Alright. I did know that this was not unique at the time. There were a dozen other people proffering their, and inevitably top 10 because it was connected with the show, their favorite moments. I went with some genuinely favorite moments, but I tried to think of some things that were not gonna be on everyone's list. Okay. My number one, for example, and maybe you're getting to this, I don't know what was, seemed very small. It was this annual thing we would do just to, to kill time, but also to be joyously silly was every time it was like the, the first day of spring or the first warm day in New York City, we would ceremonially welcome the warm weather by going into the control room and see Hal Gurney, our director unbutton his second time <laugh> button from the top of his shirt and funny the first time. But after you've been doing it for years and years, it starts to get sublime. You know?

Louise Palanker (00:32:19):

What are some of the other, uh, events or episodes that make your list? Just rattle off a few if you would, Steve.

Steve O'Donnell (00:32:26):

Uh, well, I can't read them from here. This is, this is sort of like, but I can remember them, believe it or not. Okay. Uh, and I've been happy that many of them have been, um, have been posted on the, the, the, the fairly new Letterman YouTube channel. I mean, you can find many of these under the auspices of the, uh, the avid collector and poster Don Giller. And I believe he's consulting on this new YouTube channel that is exclusively

Louise Palanker (00:32:49):

So. Yeah. But some of the things on the list, for example, were, you know, things that we all remember. Anyone who watched Letterman remember, which was, you know, Warren's Yvonne's, uh, appearance with Dave, the Dave's, uh, being the first talk talk show to come back on the air after nine 11.

Steve O'Donnell (00:33:02):

I tried to balance, uh, uh, some, some more serious things with ba silly things. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, I

Fritz Coleman  (00:33:08):

Think that was pivotal. Steve that night showed, uh, a three-dimensional side to Letterman that people didn't even know existed. His empathy, his humanity, his, you know, um, embracing what we had been through, he, that was really an amazing night. I'll never forget that.

Steve O'Donnell (00:33:25):

Yes. And, and it's, having watched it a few times, he doesn't really condemn anyone or, or, or get angry. It's more, uh, uh, more just identifying with all his, all his viewers about how, how tragic and sad it is and that we must go on. So, um, yeah, without really grinding an ax, it was an accomplishment. But again, there were silly things, things that were on things that have been posted since on the, the new YouTube channel is, uh, Larry Bud Melman at the Port Authority, not using the microphone properly when he's talking, he's putting it in the mouth of the, the interviewee. And when they're talking, he's got it in front of his own mouth for some reason in that time and place, it was just perfect.

Fritz Coleman  (00:34:11):

I just loved him. How did he come to your attention? How was he

Steve O'Donnell (00:34:13):

Cast? This was, uh, this was two writers from the first years of the show named Steve Weiner and Carl Teman, who were, had been NYU students. And they'd made a student film that included Melman as a character. It was a perfect premise. It was supposed to be a, a, a documentary about the, the cheapest movie studio that ever existed. So they got to do 25 short parodies of really bad movies. And, uh, the actor Culvert Deforest, uh, played the, the head of the studio and they included it in their submissions to the Letterman show. So, uh, Dave Letterman and Merrill Marco were intrigued by, um, by the actor. And so they, they hired both the writers, uh, and who, who did a lot of funny other kinds of stuff over the, uh, years. But they kept, but they kept the moment around you. And by the way, I I, I have been saying this for years and I think it's true, but someone else will have to verify it.


Culvert, Deforrest, um, he wasn't really playing a character mm-hmm. <affirmative> it exactly conformed to his actual personality. And he was from an acting family on both sides, the deforest and the culverts in some weird way, connected to, you know, the Baram mos and so on. It was, so that's partly why he half pursued it. But he was working as a clerk in a methadone clinic when he was hired. Um, well, we, we sort of, uh, piecemeal used him for the first two or three years of the show. And then when they found out he was making so much money doing NBC television that they had to let him go from the sort of government, uh, uh, supported methadone clinic. But, so we hired him full-time and it was well worth it.

Louise Palanker (00:36:01):

He may have been a distraction at that location because he was pretty much a household face <laugh>. So Now, did he care or know whether or not he was being laughed at or laughed with?

Steve O'Donnell (00:36:10):

Uh, uh, it's a wonderful question, but I think it was, it wasn't exactly laughing at, I, I do think he was just a, just a wonderful, bizarre element of like, uh, he had a certain kind of p poise, but he also had a such discomfort and, and clumsiness and such a weird voice as well. E even the Brooklyn pronunciation. I remember him ruining a couple of pieces that I'd written just because I hadn't anticipated how he, I, I had one scene where he was supposed to come out in the audience with a big tray full of oysters and be calling, who wants a fresh oyster? You know? And he comes out in the middle of the piece, he's going, ster ster, who wants ster? And of course the audience just going, what? Why is this guy shouting ster? And it was like, uh, we should have rehearsed it. I guess that that could be the, the theme for the whole retrospective. We should rehearse it. We

Louise Palanker (00:37:01):

Should rehearse it. So I think Thomas has found the new Letterman YouTube channel, which is newly minted, correct?

Steve O'Donnell (00:37:06):

Uh, I think it's like two months old. Two

Louise Palanker (00:37:08):

Months old. So it's called, so how would people find it? Thomas? What's it called?

Everyone (00:37:12):

Uh, I believe I, I just,

Steve O'Donnell (00:37:13):

That's Letterman. Yeah. Yeah, that's it.

Louise Palanker (00:37:16):

And then he comes up and you can find Calvert. He's there

Steve O'Donnell (00:37:19):

And they, and he has trendi using the Ukraine colors before record. Ah,

Louise Palanker (00:37:24):

<laugh>. That is nice. What were you gonna ask Fritz?

Fritz Coleman  (00:37:27):

No, I was just gonna say, um, as, as Steve was mentioning to us before we went on, that the Letterman does some fairly updated interstitial stuff, commenting on the,

Steve O'Donnell (00:37:35):

Oh yeah, there's some brand new things on this. And again, this is where it might differ from those people that were fans of Don Gill's, uh, hodgepodge Collections. Um, these are a little more curated, a little more edited. Uh, and then there's also commentary by writers, uh, who, who took part in the show. Directors Henderson,

Louise Palanker (00:37:53):

Like you and the other Steve from Zoom.

Steve O'Donnell (00:37:55):

Uh, Steve is represented with material, but I don't think he's been interviewed yet. Um, we're going in order of seniorness, I guess. I don't know. Um, but Letterman tapes brand new things too. Like he'll respond to a current event that's in 2022, or he'll, or he'll offer some strange anecdote out of the blue about the, the day he got knocked unconscious on the streets of Providence, Rhode Island. And you go like, well, this has nothing to do with any of the shows <laugh>, but it's just a funny two minutes long. And, and if you're interested in Letterman, his personality, it's very, very fascinating to

Fritz Coleman  (00:38:29):

Watch. And a master storyteller. That's what I loved about him. <laugh>, when he was a guest with Carson, he, he would spin these tales that fantastic. Yes. And you understood his talent. Yes. We have to talk about Steve Young's

Louise Palanker (00:38:40):

Movie. Yes. It's not his movie and he wants me to make sure that I say that he's the subject of the movie. And Steve Young take it from there.

Fritz Coleman  (00:38:46):

But it was his passion. Oh yes. It was his obsession that turned it into a

Louise Palanker (00:38:49):

Movie. Oh, yes. So tell us all about it, Steve.

Steve Young (00:38:52):

Well, uh, what we're talking about is a documentary made by Dave o Whisnant called Bathtubs Over Broadway. And it grew out of my work on the Letterman Show. And in fact, Steve O'Donnell was instrumental at the very earliest stage in pointing me in this direction. My very first day of work, 32 years ago this month, Steve brought me down the hall in 30 Rock in the offices and said, well, if you're, uh, if you're gonna work here, we're gonna find you in office. And luckily, several writers had left recently. There were a few empty ones. He said, how about this one? It was an office where, you know, it had the usual, uh, desk and chair and everything, but there were also boxes of record albums. And I said, well, what are the, what, what's the deal with these record albums? And he kindly explained, because my knowledge of the show was actually rather iffy at this point.


We do a bit on the show called Dave's Record Collection with unintentionally funny record albums that we hold up and we enjoy bits of. And, uh, so the writer who used to have this office was in charge of that piece and gathered up the material, Hey, maybe you can be the new, uh, person who will do Dave's record collection. And I said, oh, okay. Whatever. Cut to, uh, I don't know, 28 years later and a featured documentary bursts onto the scene, uh, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, uh, won a lot of awards and it's on Netflix and other platforms. It's about the strange records I accidentally began finding when gathering material. I found there was a whole hidden subculture of musical theater written for company conventions and sales meetings that the public was never supposed to know about. And it only leaked out a little bit because sometimes there were souvenir record albums pressed just to give to the salesman and distributors and so on. And I started finding them at thrift shops and used record stores. And I said, this is the strangest branch of show business I can conceive of. And it's hilarious, but it's done sincerely who did this and why, and what did they think about it? And that is kind of the kicking off point of the documentary.

Fritz Coleman  (00:41:01):

It's really wonderful. Give them some titles like Dazzle Diesel or Diesel Dazzle. So they're just, the titles suggest everything you need to know.

Steve Young (00:41:09):

That's right. Uh, diesel Dazzle Detroit Diesel Engine, uh, 1966 musical for the, uh, diesel engine distributors and salesmen. Uh, got to investigate silicones. That was a business to business musical General Electric put on to convince other, uh, industry representatives that GE Silicones would help their manufacturing. Uh, the bathrooms are coming, of course. Uh, landmark achievement in the field, American standards 1969 bathroom fixture musical put on live in Las Vegas to convince, uh, distributors of bathroom fixtures that American Standard had the stuff going into the new sales year.

Fritz Coleman  (00:41:50):

And these were, these were massive productions. You even made a comparison of how much it costs to launch an actual Broadway show. And these shows were like six times as expensive as a regular Broadway show to put on. And they were performed just a couple of times and that was the end of it.

Steve Young (00:42:05):

Yeah, it's crazy. Uh, they were usually extremely ephemeral. Sometimes they toured around to a few cities and the, you're, you're, you're American Motors dealers in Chicago would see it, and then it would go to Florida and then it would go to Dallas. But sometimes there's just once in a hotel ballroom at eight in the morning where 250 floor tile sales would see <laugh> a show, and it might be miserable. Plenty of them were just god awful, a lot of hastily, uh, thrown together song parodies. But the top end with money from General Electric or GM or Westinghouse or Ford or whatever, just unlimited budgets. I think it was tax deductible. But they just said, who's, who's good, who's a good Broadway writer these days, dangled this money in front of them and see if they'll write a musical about selling fluorescent light fixtures or whatever. And,

Louise Palanker (00:42:55):

And so you found that there was top talent involved in these productions and then you, after being an avid fan and collector, got to go out in the making of this documentary and meet some of your heroes and idols and even write with them. Correct.

Steve Young (00:43:09):

Yeah. It really took an amazing turn from something that had started as just we have to scramble together enough material about these sad, pathetic, weird records to fill a segment to who did this. And I'm gonna start doing detective work and find out, number one, do they have any more records in their closet? Because now I was collecting this stuff from myself, but also what did it mean to you? How did it work? And, and I was thrilled by the attitude of so many of these writers and performers who are not household names, but they would say things like, we, we were well paid. Yes, but we always wanted to do our best work. Because that's why you got into this line of work. You wanted to make something you were proud of. Even if it's about ball bearings, you want to say, I want this audience to leave going, oh my God, who knew that I could have be choked up with emotion over the business that I'm in and the, the products and the company and all that and,

Fritz Coleman  (00:44:06):

And some spectacular talent. I mean, you had Sheldon Harner who wrote the lyrics for Fiddler On the Roof that wrote some of these things. You had Martin Short, cheetah Rivera, Florence Henderson, all these astonishing talents who were very proud to have participated in this. Cuz first of all, Martin Short said he made more money doing that than he never made in his life before. And they were all very proud of it. It was not a, not a secret to them.

Steve Young (00:44:30):

Yeah. Sheldon Harnek, that's another Steve O'Donnell story. <laugh>,


I had, uh, found a copy of a new record from my collection at one point. It was called The Music From Fortify, your Future <laugh> Old Wordplay on Ford and Fortify. And the cover was All East Ford tractors. And it was a musical that had been performed for the Ford Tractor Salesforce about how the great new 1959 tractor line is a salesman dream, blah, blah, blah. It's all peppy. It's fun. It's surprisingly good. It's like, as Sheldon Harnek told me later, I loved the puzzle of it. Take the least promising material that you could ever think of and actually take it over the top with your craft of music and lyrics. But I knew nothing about Broadway musicals. I just was attracted to this for this conceptual weirdness of it and the fact that so many of the songs were bizarrely catchy and they were not for me. So I knew nothing about the real Broadway world. And Steve O'Donnell took this tractor record, flipped it over to the back to look at the credits, and his eyes popped open and he, I still hear this in my head, Sheldon Harnick <laugh>, Jerry Bach, you know who those people are. And I said, no, I have no idea. They wrote Fiddler On the Roof. So I went, oh my gosh, I guess there's layers to this that I'm going to be slowly discovering. So that was part of it. Yeah.

Steve O'Donnell (00:45:55):

Well, the many layers, and you mentioned the emotion and the talent. Uh, I, it's also moving as you, in the course of this documentary, search out and find people who did the musicals and were just chorus members or maybe featured players 30, 40 years ago and have even forgotten that they were in the show. And you find them and there's a sort of a flashback of memory, or they're delighted that something they thought was a throwaway as being celebrated once again. And also just the kind of detective work, like you were so thrilled about the, uh, the bath, the bathroom songs and the bathtub songs that when you actually find some of the surviving cast members and two of them had gotten married during the, during the, the, the, the, the rehearsal period and performances of the show. There's just a lot of human stories inside the, the, the, the the sillier historical documentary story.

Fritz Coleman  (00:46:48):

And I will tell you, I found, I found two extremely touching aspects of this that you don't expect. You think it's, uh, uh, when you first begin to watch it, it's gonna be the Letterman bit expanded into 90 minutes. But I thought the two most touching parts about this were the bond that you had with these people. They were so thankful that somebody gave value to what they had devoted their lives to and many people didn't know they had participated in. And you knew the words to all their songs. And as soon as they realized that you weren't there to lampoon them, that you had a real human connection, you really had a great, uh, bonding and, and did the eulogy at one's funeral. And it was really very touching. And the second touching thing was, and I wanted to ask you this one question and then I'll be quiet. Um, was the timing of the documentary's third act, you retiring from the Letterman show, did you do that timing on purpose or were that just kismet that it happened to happen, that you entered the show when you entered your career at Letterman?

Steve Young (00:47:49):

It it turned out that way. Not planned. But, uh, in early 2014, David the director, said she wanted to start making this documentary. The book that you see in the film had come out a few months before and had gotten some excellent coverage and reviews. Uh, I got to be on Fresh Air with Terry Gross. With Sheldon Harnick. Now understood. Was an important Broadway legend <laugh>. So we were getting some great, uh, attention. And David, who I had met when she was an editor at the Letterman Show, she had moved into films and editing and documentaries and different things. So she kind of had a foot in the film world now. And she said she wanted to make this movie cuz she suspected that there was a lot more to tell. And boy was she right. So many more people to meet and so many more unfoldings of, uh, strangely compelling human dramas and all these big questions.


But we were making the movie, she was making the movie months, uh, before Mr. Letterman announced he was going to retire. And as David recalls this, her first impression of that news was, oh no, this isn't good for us. But as it turned out, she's uh, one of these great artists who can adapt on the fly and take something like that and say, you know what, this actually can vault us up to a higher level because there's now this parallel. The industrial show world faded out eventually, Steve Young's Letterman career is ending. We can, we can build something there that will really resonate. So she, she took that surprising news and made something great,

Fritz Coleman  (00:49:24):

Really made it touching.

Louise Palanker (00:49:27):

Yeah, it's, it's, um, it's a lot of fun. And I, I know that you've probably gotten more fans looking into this art form, you know, since you created your book, the book and the film. And you know, you must be getting a lot of, a lot of people asking you about trades and you know, how they can acquire certain pieces of work. Yeah,

Steve Young (00:49:46):

Yeah, yeah. Records that I used to be able to pick up for $20 now are like $400. Uh, which is great cuz I did put aside a lot of duplicates back in the, uh, <laugh>.

Fritz Coleman  (00:49:56):

Do they still do those, Steve, do they still do those musicals?

Steve Young (00:50:00):

Some, uh, it never goes away entirely because companies and organizations always need some way to galvanize their people. And if you're sitting together in a theater and you see some sort of presentation come on, that rocks you back in your seat with music and humor and dazzle and drama, it can get people moved and inspired and motivated in a way that I don't know that anything else can. That's one of the things I learned during this. And you don't get the big book musicals very much anymore. They were so expensive to make and so elaborate and you can do a lot with video and things on giant screens now. But there are a few companies that still, uh, every few years seem to put on something. For some reason, state Farm Insurance will not let it go. God bless

Fritz Coleman  (00:50:51):

<laugh>. I, I have, uh,

Steve Young (00:50:52):

Bootleg materials that have been handed to me under the table from various people. 2006, 2008, 2011, 2018, really. And, uh, there may not be an end to it. Somebody told me, you know, state Farms hundredth anniversary is 2022. I wouldn't be surprised if they put on a big blowout show of some sort.

Louise Palanker (00:51:12):

So have you ever attended a show?

Steve Young (00:51:15):

I have not. And I, I've watched, uh, video footage, uh, eventually in my detective work I would find, uh, performers and composers who had VHS tapes and that's an interesting phenomenon cause I love listening to the songs, but I don't know if as a civilian I could maintain interest for a long day of a show interspersed with speeches from vice presidents. I I think it might be quite a slog for somebody who really just, I just wanna hear the fun songs about diesel engine

Fritz Coleman  (00:51:51):

<laugh>. Yeah. Gotcha. Well, I, I was reading reviews of your movie and they were all great, but some really suggested the cultural significance of these types of musicals and variety in their reviews said these musicals represent, pardon me, the peak of American capitalism. That period of time from the late fifties to the early eighties was the peak of American capitalism. And this was like a physical manifestation of that peak.

Steve Young (00:52:16):

Yeah, I think there was this post-war glow when, uh, America kind of was on the top of the world, certainly economically, and the tide was rising for so many parts of the country. Obviously, uh, we shouldn't oversimplify and say life was great for everyone. There have always been marginalized people who do not participate in that great era But yeah, the companies believed that they could afford to care about the people who worked for them. In fact, they said people will want to work here for the long term if we show them that we're a family. And, and every year we put on something that acknowledges the problems sometimes as well as cheerleading, but it will be something that draws us all together. We'll have a common purpose and people will believe in us, and we will believe in our people. And then by the eighties, that was falling apart. Uh, many people have told me the, uh, the consultants came in and the beam counters came in. Get rid of all this morale boosting stuff doesn't help. If it can't be exactly quantified, then it's useless. We don't care if people like to work at Kenny's shoes. If they wanna leave mine, we'll get somebody else. It doesn't matter whether people like the company or their job. And then we kind of threw ourselves down a well, uh, as a, as an economy by too much of that.

Louise Palanker (00:53:41):

Wow, that's so interesting. So, uh, are you ready, Steve's, for a little bit of Letterman show trivia.

Steve Young (00:53:49):

Uh, I'm gonna say yes because what else can I pause to

Louise Palanker (00:53:52):

<laugh>? I will say, it is not Don Giller obscure, and you may actually know the answers. Okay. So number question number one, at what temperature did Dave keep the studio during tapings?

Steve Young (00:54:04):

Do we have a buzzer or should we make a buzzing in noise? You

Louise Palanker (00:54:07):

Can, yes. Yes. Just like when the u p s man arrives.

Steve Young (00:54:10):

Okay. Well,

Steve O'Donnell (00:54:12):

I, I recall that you could, that you could see your breath, uh, during rehearsals. And I do know there was only one or two occasions when they raised the temperature for shows. And one of them was when Aretha Franklin was on Aw. Because she came into the studio and said, I'm not going to sing if it's this cold. There

Louise Palanker (00:54:29):

You go.

Steve O'Donnell (00:54:29):

It had to do with her vocal chords. So on that day, the temperature went up, but I would say it'd be around 50 degrees or something. But I don't know for a fact.

Steve Young (00:54:37):

Well, I was gonna guess 55, but, uh, you were there longer. And maybe in turning the, well,

Steve O'Donnell (00:54:42):

Well, there's also a difference. It's 50 degrees when you're loading in the audience, by the time the taping starts, it might have gone up to 55 or, because I see human we're, it's a, there are a bunch of filthy animals exuding body

Louise Palanker (00:54:55):

Warmth, continuously exhaling. So, uh, according to the internet, the, what's that, Steve?

Steve Young (00:55:01):

I said, oh, just, you know, a massive human flesh close to a hundred degrees.

Louise Palanker (00:55:07):

That's, that's, that sounds scientifically accurate, but according to the internet, the temperature during studio tapings was 58 degrees.

Steve Young (00:55:15):


Steve O'Donnell (00:55:15):

58, yeah. But according to the internet, nine 11 was an inside job. <laugh>. No,

Louise Palanker (00:55:20):

I, I've been to tapings at probably both studios thanks to Steve O'Donnell. And I just would, if you kept your coat on, you were excited to be there. And you didn't, it really, you didn't notice it. It was fine. I didn't have to sing like Aretha. So

Steve Young (00:55:37):

You said 50, I said 55. The internet says 58, as Mr. Letterman would say, not a match. The board goes,

Steve O'Donnell (00:55:44):

<laugh>, <laugh>,

Louise Palanker (00:55:46):

Or, you know, and the price is right. You did not go above. And so therefore, you're the winner of that round. Steve Young. Why did Dave announce that the top 10 list came from the home office in Sioux City, Iowa?

Steve O'Donnell (00:56:01):

He often did it because someone asked him to do it. Either a fan or someone he met at a, at a event somewhere, uh, at, at, at first he just made them up Scottsdale, Arizona. Cuz it sounded like a sort of new business location.

Louise Palanker (00:56:15):

Right. There is a, there is a more passive aggressive story.

Steve O'Donnell (00:56:21):

Oh, well, I don't know what it is, but can I guess, uh, yeah, the, the Sioux City, uh, affiliate did something like drop the show or, or delayed it an hour or ding

Louise Palanker (00:56:30):

Ding, ding, ding, ding. Yes. There is a more passive aggressive subplot. The Sioux City, uh, Iowa affiliate refused to air the show. You understand Your're, Dave, don't you, Steve?

Steve O'Donnell (00:56:42):

Well, I just know, I know of enough that if he were, when you said passive aggressive or whatever, I said on, what other topic would it be except about broadcasting in the show and so on. Why,

Fritz Coleman  (00:56:52):

Why, why did they drop the show? It was,

Louise Palanker (00:56:53):

I'm sure it was too racy.

Steve O'Donnell (00:56:55):

Well, we, we had a lot of, uh, Iowa jokes and how many Iowans does it?

Louise Palanker (00:57:00):

Oh, so they were being passive aggressive.

Steve O'Donnell (00:57:02):

No, I'm just kidding. Well,

Louise Palanker (00:57:03):

How many islands does it take <laugh>?

Steve Young (00:57:06):

What? Drop a show from the broadcast. Yeah.

Louise Palanker (00:57:09):

Uh, you pro I think you're both gonna get this one correct. What legendary figure occasionally contributed monologue jokes for Letterman.

Steve Young (00:57:16):

Ding ding ding. Yes. Johnny Carson, after he retired, uh, I was running the monologue for the last 11 years of the show. So I would get these jokes. Johnny would call Dave's office and one of his, uh, assistants would transcribe them, ah,

Louise Palanker (00:57:31):

Paper. So do it via the telephone and, and use his actual speaking voice. Yes.

Steve Young (00:57:37):

I did not get to speak to Mr. Carson, but I received his jokes and it was clear that, uh, Dave thought that, uh, they were gonna go on the show, which was fine because Johnny absolutely knew how to do this. He was not, uh, somebody who was blundering around. But when Johnny died, I think it was 2005, uh, it was during one of our dark weeks, but, uh, word was passed along to me, uh, from Dave that, uh, when we got back and were doing our show on Monday when we were back, he wanted the monologue that day to be all jokes that Johnny had sent in.

Louise Palanker (00:58:11):

Oh, I remember

Steve Young (00:58:11):

That. So I pulled, uh, I pulled everything out of the files and went back and gathered 'em up and put them together. That was an easy monologue to put together that day, cuz he wasn't gonna cross any of them out. So

Fritz Coleman  (00:58:24):


Steve Young (00:58:25):

So he did them. And it was a little odd because there were various topics which were no longer exactly in the news, but they were still playing pretty well. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I think there was an undercurrent of the audience going, whoa, this is a bit odd. <laugh>, they did not explain right what these jokes were or why he was doing it until we came back from the first commercial breaking that is kin. He said, I would just like to mention something, uh, about the, the first part of the show today. All those jokes that you heard me do out there on the stage, those were, were, uh, contributed to the show at various points in the last couple of years by our dear friend Johnny Carson. And, uh, the audience was just, oh my God,

Louise Palanker (00:59:05):

Loving honor.

Steve O'Donnell (00:59:07):

They should have, they should have recognized the tidy bull man, uh, appearing in some of the <laugh>

Steve Young (00:59:12):


Fritz Coleman  (00:59:13):

Downtown. Let, lemme me ask you a question about Carson. Was the staff, particularly people that had longevity as disappointed when Dave not get the Tonight Show as Dave was, was there a a a common feeling about that?

Steve O'Donnell (00:59:27):

I, I think that we were, but I think Dave's disappointment was profound enough that it would be, it'd probably be, uh, inaccurate to, to, to compare us ourselves to it. It seemed to me obvious he'd been doing the show every single night. Uh, Jay had been a guest host, uh, for, for The Tonight Show. I just thought like doing a thousand shows outweighed doing 25 shows. But, um, it isn't always just those, those, those standards. I, I I I think it's been written about enough about how the, the network thought Jay was maybe more network friendly, more executive friendly, more affiliate friendly. But, um,

Steve Young (01:00:06):

Yeah, suit City wasn't gonna drop in. Show

Louise Palanker (01:00:08):

<laugh>. There you go. Okay. Question, uh, question number four. Where does Letterman rank on TV guides list of the top 50 greatest shows of all time?

Steve Young (01:00:19):

Who's list

Louise Palanker (01:00:20):

It's TV guides,

Steve Young (01:00:22):

Do they still exist? How old

Louise Palanker (01:00:23):

Is the <laugh> in Sioux City? You can find it. <laugh>.

Steve O'Donnell (01:00:26):

Uh, I, I may be mixed. There was the Writer's Guild also put out such a list and I just remember going to the cocktail party. Steve, do you remember there was a shot of you and me and the other Steve. There was another Letterman writer named, uh, named Steve Weiner. Uh, but on that list, Letterman was like 98 ago, oddly

Louise Palanker (01:00:44):

Hundreds. I think you'll be pleased with this ranking. We

Steve Young (01:00:46):

Cracked the top 80.

Louise Palanker (01:00:48):

This you will be pleased. Y you are number seven.

Steve Young (01:00:51):


Fritz Coleman  (01:00:52):


Louise Palanker (01:00:53):

And I think that, I think historically that's accurate. Oh,

Steve O'Donnell (01:00:56):


Louise Palanker (01:00:57):

How many times did Madonna drop the F bomb in her 1994 Letterman appearance?

Steve Young (01:01:03):

I'm gonna say 55. Steve's gonna say 50

Steve O'Donnell (01:01:06):

<laugh>. It probably is something like that. Also, do you count during the commercial breaks? <laugh>? You know, I,

Louise Palanker (01:01:11):

That might be what you're recalling cuz I have,

Steve O'Donnell (01:01:13):

I think we just have to agree that it's a fucking large no <laugh>.

Louise Palanker (01:01:18):

It's 14. Oh, according to my sources. That's

Steve O'Donnell (01:01:22):

Like, that's like finding out how many Honeymooners episodes. There were not that

Louise Palanker (01:01:26):

Many, but you know, f-bombs are like seasoning too much is is too much. You know, come on, Madonna, pull it, pull it back a

Steve Young (01:01:32):

Notch. We're all tired of the old, how many jelly beans are in this jar? Win a prize. We could just have Americans guess how many F-bombs?

Louise Palanker (01:01:40):

<laugh>. Yeah. That's gonna be the new euphemistically used. Uh, do we have any more questions for these two before we

Fritz Coleman  (01:01:45):

Yes. I, I just, uh, somebody, this is, this might be too inside baseball, but what was the day like for a writer? What was the schedule? When did you come in? When did you, uh, did you do what they do in a newsroom, which was to spritz what the topics were of the day before you went off and wrote your jokes? Or did people come in with jokes or how did it work?

Steve O'Donnell (01:02:03):

I think people had a pretty good, uh, notion of a, I mean, there was a lot of newspapers and the TVs on and, uh, um, there were, there wasn't like an outline that went out. I, off and on. I seem to remember in the, in near the end of my tenure there, uh, uh, people would go around with like, here's the headlines of the day. But I like, how dumb do you have to beat him up? Mm-hmm. <affirmative> know what was going on. Um, I, I think it varied from writer here to writer. We, one of the, one of the, the absolute uh, uh, uh, uh, you know, yomen cornerstone solid contributed workers. Jerry Mulligan did monologue fantastically, but he lived in Nutley, New Jersey, and he had to get on a bus and off the bus and leave on a bus. And we got to have a, a little running joke about Jerry's on the bus. Jerry's on the bus. And it got to be that we used it for guests too. Like, if a guest got bumped, it would be there on the bus. <laugh> the guest that is on the bus. Um, and Mulligan would write viewer mail and Pret tapes and so on, but he was just a master at, at short monologue. So his day might have been different. Was

Fritz Coleman  (01:03:03):

This time where you guys are doing 18 hour days for five days? Yeah,

Steve O'Donnell (01:03:06):

Sometimes. Yes. And as we got up to like anniversary show weeks and stuff, also some, some writers had more to do than others. And that would shift from time to time. Also, there'd be things that'd be written around a table with, you know, uh, uh, eight or nine folks. And then there's things that were written by one person or two people, um, different combinations. They were, and again, Letterman would come in with premises all the time. Let's throw stuff off a five story tower and then we would just start writing things down. So, um, uh, there wasn't really a a, a cookie cutter a day. Uh, I do remember that. Um, uh, uh, you know, they in a sort of Peyton place sort of way. All the, all the romances and boyfriends and girlfriends and stuff on the stuff, they were always, uh, from the inside the show. And I always said, that's cuz we're on a space station <laugh>. We, we never go down to the planet. We're here constantly. These are the only people you see. We're, we're, we're breathing oxygen extracted from our own urine

Steve Young (01:04:06):

<laugh>. Wow. That's took a turn. I was not, let me

Louise Palanker (01:04:09):

All all get your period on the same cycle and

Steve O'Donnell (01:04:11):

Yeah. Yes. Like a sorority house in outer space. Hey, that's my pitch <laugh> sorority house.

Fritz Coleman  (01:04:18):

So, Steve Young, you made a comment at the beginning of your documentary about after you do what you gentlemen did for 20 years, you are comedically numb. You are, your brain is fried. You don't think in comedic terms anymore. You were talking about how you approach the documentary. Talk about what that's like when you're, when you're doing topical humor for 20 and 25 years, how it changes your perception of reacting to humor.

Steve Young (01:04:45):

Yeah. I I call it comedy damage in, in bathtubs over Broadway. And it's not even just topical humor, although I do find that, especially in this Twitter age, anything that happens, uh, within seconds, literally hundreds of thousands of people are all writing jokes about it. And many of them are gonna be pretty similar jokes. And even if they're pretty great jokes, we're now up to our eyeballs and well past in jokes, <laugh> and individual jokes, even the best of them, they're only gonna make me go, yeah, that's good. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> the laugh reaction has been burned outta me on so many fronts. Not every are you the same? I watch things and I know this is true of other comedy professionals. You hear a joke or you watch a show or whatever and you nod and you say, yeah, that's good. But it's not like I don't have the joy anymore of oh my God, that that Steve remembers me laughing up roly. I hope. Oh,

Steve O'Donnell (01:05:46):

I also remember you wearing leather pants and dancing on the table in the writer's room doing a Jim Morrison impression. I hope that could wrap up the show today, <laugh>. Um, I, I, I don't, I think that's definitely true about monologue type jokes, but maybe that's why one increasingly likes absurd things. That's why I'd have very few things to recommend. Am I out of line if I recommend something specifically to, uh, zoom Steve? That is to say, Steve,

Louise Palanker (01:06:10):

Let's do that part of the show right now. Let's do your recommendations.

Steve O'Donnell (01:06:13):

Steve, you're maybe gonna go, oh, I'm very familiar already A British team, Mitchell and Webb. Have you watched them at all? They are, they are sketches you would write if you could write them, because they're all based on some very small misunderstanding that you can't believe that everyone involved is so dumb that they can't get past it. And they do this about a hundred times <laugh>, and they're all fantastic. They're really, really, really good. I So are they you YouTube? Yeah, I think so. Uh, they may even have their own network. They're fairly, they're fairly, no, I think they're fairly contemporary. There's other British teams that I like a lot. The, uh, Harry and Dave. I might remember Paul and Harry. Anyway, um, I think

Louise Palanker (01:06:52):

Harry and Dave are like, they send you gift baskets.

Steve O'Donnell (01:06:54):

<laugh>. That's right. The, uh, the pairs, uh, no, even, I, I mean, I'll go online and listen to Goon show and the Spike Milligan and stuff, but, but Mitchell and Webb I think are current.

Louise Palanker (01:07:03):

But are you looking for something that's just so kind of like twisted that it's something your brain hasn't heard

Steve O'Donnell (01:07:11):

Before? No, no. I, I might have mentioned Key and Peel. Like, just like you watch their sketches mm-hmm. <affirmative>, nobody's gonna duplicate those. Exactly. There's, they're just too rich and too specific mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And when you get done watching 'em and going, well, not only were the performances great, I wouldn't change one line. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, which you can't always feel watching an SNL sketch because, well, first of all, I don't think they took, they have as much time to take the care mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And they're also not aiming for exactly the same thing. There's a sort of higher conceptual level, even though they're very silly, uh, and and funny do either. But I mean, there, there are things that you can look at and admire and laugh at

Louise Palanker (01:07:47):

Since, well, if you guys were to sort of peruse some of Don Don Gillard's channel or, or Letterman's channel and click on something that you know you created are, are you sometimes like pleasantly amused that that came out of your mind enough to smile?

Steve Young (01:08:03):

I almost never wanna watch any Letterman clips, really. I, uh, really maybe, maybe another decade or two, uh, <laugh>, I have a website where, where I gather some things I'm proud of and I'm fine with those. And I've occasionally had occasion to look at them again and think, oh, that's good.

Louise Palanker (01:08:18):

Your website is wonderful, wonderfully put together. Oh, it's called Steve Young World, if you'd like to visit, and we'll have links in our show notes.

Steve Young (01:08:27):

Very good. Thank you. Yes. Uh, so, so I don't really at this point feel excited about revisiting the Letterman world. Uh, uh, maybe I will become more fond of that over time. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but, uh, key and peel. Yes. Uh, I go on deep dives in that I am not so comedy damaged that I cannot enjoy, truly enjoy good stuff like that. I've also seen some Amy Schumer stuff recently that I had never seen before that I liked. But the thing that reliably makes me actually make an audible laughing noise

Steve O'Donnell (01:09:00):


Steve Young (01:09:03):

And there aren't many things to do this now, but oh my God, the bad lip reading, one of the few things that I am jealous of that I could not have created, combination of utter nonsense and utter rigor in how it is constructed to fit the mouth movements of, of various people talking. I think this is, this is my comedy dream scape now. It's like,

Louise Palanker (01:09:25):


Steve Young (01:09:26):

A fever dream where logic has collapsed in on itself, but it has the shape of human conversation.

Louise Palanker (01:09:32):


Steve Young (01:09:34):


Steve O'Donnell (01:09:35):

Well, this is wonderful. Now I understand those initials, those, uh, acronyms you've been signing off your texts to me with the a l n Audible Laughing Noise

Louise Palanker (01:09:46):


Steve O'Donnell (01:09:46):

You, you bypass the l o l It just went with the audible laughing

Louise Palanker (01:09:50):

Noise. All right. Steve Young, it's time to see what's in that box.

Steve Young (01:09:54):

Oh, okay. Let's see if we can get this. Now,

Steve O'Donnell (01:09:57):

By the way, I'm going to mention another Letterman writer. That picture of the guy holding the sport coat is from a dry cleaning ad. But I thought it looked very much like Tom Gamble who wrote the, uh, co-wrote the, uh, they took my show away and several of, uh, the, uh, film specials. Well, he wrote a million gazillion things,

Louise Palanker (01:10:16):

But I love this wall scape of Steve Young. It's really, I'm gonna freeze frame it so you can see the couch and the artwork.

Steve Young (01:10:24):

Oh yes, those are from me.

Louise Palanker (01:10:25):

Oh, this is a big package.

Steve Young (01:10:27):

Yeah. You can see why I had to run

Louise Palanker (01:10:29):

Downstairs. Yeah, I do. I'm happy you've caught him or he caught you home.

Steve Young (01:10:33):

Believe me. I am too.

Louise Palanker (01:10:35):

I wouldn't want the neighbors to have a look at that.

Steve O'Donnell (01:10:37):

Well, well, Steve is opening this up. I will quickly answer the question about do I like looking at old things? Okay. Not really, but there, occasionally something will move me cuz it will remind me of like the, the, the, the whole running bit that my mom inspired. Yeah. When I was home once and she had, uh, uh, observed that Letterman wasn't wearing the, uh, the gym shoes along with the sport coat and tie and that he was wearing leather shoes. She said, did his supervisor talk to him <laugh>? And she was, and she was quite serious about that. She didn't. Oh, wow. That's, that's, oh,

Louise Palanker (01:11:10):

Steve Young has received a guitar in the mail. Wow. It's a fender

Fritz Coleman  (01:11:16):

That's beautiful.

Steve O'Donnell (01:11:17):

And it's like a, like c foam

Louise Palanker (01:11:20):

Qua. Can we hear the backstory? Because this looks like a vintage purchase?

Steve Young (01:11:24):

Well, this is an Epiphone Les Paul s sl, which is a very cheap low end guitar, but, uh, I've had it modified. Uh, I do play guitar. You may have seen the other one there. Yeah. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, uh, I've recently, uh, uh, gone Electric and, uh, I wanted, uh, an inexpensive guitar that was actually pretty cool. There's a guy in Florida who I bought from before. He picked up inexpensive guitars and hot rods them. So this one, he got nearly new, put new pickups in it, better tuning machines, better electronics under the hood. And, uh,

Louise Palanker (01:12:04):

It's not strong, right? It's not, uh oh, it is, it is strong. Can you play a little something? It's

Steve Young (01:12:08):

Not necessarily in tune.

Louise Palanker (01:12:10):

Yeah. Let's hear if it's

Steve Young (01:12:12):

Yeah. Close. I had him put on this, uh, purple, uh, leopard print pick

Louise Palanker (01:12:16):

Card. Ooh. Maybe you could play a little something from the bathrooms are coming.

Steve Young (01:12:29):

I actually could.

Fritz Coleman  (01:12:30):

I was impressed with how you knew the lyrics to every single one of those songs you launched into there with the people that wrote them and performed them.

Steve Young (01:12:38):

Yeah, I had a lot of stuff just in my head for sure.

Louise Palanker (01:12:43):

And your own song was recently covered by, uh, Christian.

Steve Young (01:12:49):

Oh, Christian Chynoweth.

Louise Palanker (01:12:50):

Yes. Maybe you'd like to play a little bit of that.

Steve Young (01:12:52):

Oh, that one I'm not up on,

Louise Palanker (01:12:54):

But okay. So yeah, back

Steve Young (01:12:55):

That one with Broadway legend, uh, Steven Schwartz. I am, uh, pursuing a songwriting career now among other things, oddly enough, so I'm all over the map.

Louise Palanker (01:13:07):

All right. Well, I'll let you pick out something to play a few. All right. A few bars.

Steve Young (01:13:10):

I have the perfect song for you.

Louise Palanker (01:13:11):


Steve O'Donnell (01:13:14):

Steve Young does have an amazing memory. The, that's why he's was a, a good match with the Letterman because Letterman's memory is unbelievable. I would, I went 25 years or so without seeing him, and then when I called on him like a week or two before the Late Show had its final broadcast, he remembered sentences from the middle of conversations that we had at his office. Oh, wow. From, from decades before. I think

Louise Palanker (01:13:37):

It's because he cares.

Steve O'Donnell (01:13:38):

Uh, he cares. He's smart, he pays attention and he remembers.

Fritz Coleman  (01:13:42):

Do you think he's happy to not be as active as he was? Because the big legend was particularly people that knew him, uh, thought he, he, he was so married to his work that he's, he is gonna be a detox period for,

Steve O'Donnell (01:13:53):

Uh, I, I think, um, that's a tough one. I think he has, has, has wanted to do broadcasting and do shows all his life. And, uh, I think there may be some part of him that is glad he doesn't have the particular pressure of a nightly show, but I think he still wishes to have a media presence and it's also something he's good at. Why would you? Absolutely, why would you give it up? But on the other hand, uh, dancers, uh, artists, whatever there is sometimes a kind of, you know, uh, you reach a sort of golden era, you wanna relax a little bit. Uh, he seems definitely seems mellower and he certainly is, uh, he seems, uh, you know, less, less, less driven. But I mean, just the very fact that he launched this new, uh, YouTube channel just recently, pretty big undertaking. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And that was with a couple of, uh, producers from the, uh, from the original shows, Barbara Gaines, who you might remember. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> squeaky voice from Backstage. And Walter Kim, you might not remember, but a very competent and, uh, congenial producer and technician.

Fritz Coleman  (01:14:56):

So, uh, worldwide Pants owns all the clips that he's putting up there. Did he have to get 'em cleared through CBS or,

Steve O'Donnell (01:15:02):

Yeah, though the Worldwide Pants didn't exist in the N B NBC C era. I, I, I don't know, uh, exactly what the legal part of it is. For a long time it was tricky showing clips from n nbc. We do anniversary shows at cbs and NBC was not cooperative about putting things up, but occasionally, sometimes we would just do it just the same. Like, like, oh, you're gonna claim it's intellectual property. And so do you really want that public battle or I don't know. Actually, I should stop talking. I don't

Louise Palanker (01:15:31):

Know. Okay. So Steve, Steve Young, I'd, I'd like to have like a little pre-production meeting with you, if I may, could you sing like a few bars of lyrics and then just go into some chord changes so I can read the closing credits?

Steve Young (01:15:45):

Okay. So I'm gonna do a little bit of the Haunting Ballad from American Standards. Yes. Vehicle <laugh>. Yes, please. Uh, my bathroom, which you see me, uh, do a live performance of in the movie. But, uh, in that case, uh, I had the vocals by the original singer Pat, but here I'll do a little myself. So do you want to have me play and sing and then just play?

Louise Palanker (01:16:09):

Yeah, why don't you play and sing about eight bars and then, and then play and then I'll read the closing credits.

Steve Young (01:16:20):

My Bathroom is a very special kinda place, the only place where I can stay making faces at my,

Louise Palanker (01:16:57):

We would love for you to join us online on Instagram and Twitter, where we are at Media Path Pod, and on Facebook where our show page is, media Path Podcast. And our Facebook group is Media Path with Fritz and Wheezy podcast community. You can find full episodes with all kinds of bonus visual content on our YouTube channel Media Path podcast. We will love to know what media you've been enjoying. You can contact us at our social media or email us at media path podcast We wanna thank our wonderful guests, Steve O'Donnell and Steve Young. Our team includes Dina Friedman, John Maddox, Sharon Beo, bill Filippi, Thomas Hubble, Mason Brown, and you. Our theme music tonight is by whoever composed my bathroom <laugh>. I am Louise p Planker here with Fritz Coleman, and we will see you along the media path haunting,

Steve O'Donnell (01:18:00):

And yet life affirming.

Louise Palanker (01:18:14):



That was just


Extraordinary. Thank you so much.

Steve O'Donnell (01:18:18):

Congrats on the guitar. Steve. That is

Louise Palanker (01:18:20):

Awesome. Anna, are you happy with the sound?

Steve Young (01:18:23):

Uh, sure. I just, uh, barely did anything besides tuning in. I have all sorts of things to experiment with, but yeah, so far, so good. And it jumped right into the pool with me on, uh, my bathroom. What better way could there be to Chris in a guitar

Fritz Coleman  (01:18:37):

<laugh> <laugh>? Now, will there be a follow up to, uh, bathtubs or is there, you know, it had to breathe life into that whole genre of music?

Steve Young (01:18:47):

Yeah, I don't know if there will be another documentary. I don't know that you could top what we had there, but, uh, the book, uh, the rights to it were bought by Steven Spielberg's company and they've been developing a scripted, fictional movie set in the world of industrial shows in the Golden Oh, that's brilliant. And, uh, I've done some consulting on the, on that project, no idea whether it will ever happen, but they've gotten pretty far along with it with a, a great director and a great screenwriter and could happen.

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