So What's The David Letterman Appeal All About?
on 12/4/2006 (2)
Don't follow leaders, watch your parking meters. -Bob Dylan
|Late Night with David Letterman... |
|Late, late night before David Letterman. |
So what's the appeal of David Letterman? And just what makes late night talk show hosts such an indelible part of Media Americana? The answer, as is so often the case, lies in man's prehistoric past.
At some point in man's evolution, the development of specialized centers of the brain allowed linguistics to take shape and form. Formerly a creature of grunts, howls and shrieks, the sudden emergence of discrete, complex specialized sounds formed by the tongue, mouth and teeth evolved into the precursor of language. No more was early man on the same level as other species of wild animal. This early simple precursor of language allowed complex ideas to be relayed and stored into memory. Instead of simple notions as "we need to find food", illustrated through grunts and hand gestures, early language allowed notions such as "we need food, and the gazelle are coming back this spring and we need to make weapons to kill them." instead.
As evolution went by and by, the more sophisticated, creative linguists in any given tribal society became more adept at relaying complex ideas via more and more complex sounds. These lucky few individuals were naturally more successful at meeting the challenges of nature, and passed on their verbal and intellectual skills via teaching and genetics in turn. This startling leap in evolution certainly occurred incredibly fast, as competing tribes developed their own unique set of sounds to describe the natural world, and hence developed their own unique language in process. Intelligence feeds linguistics, and linguistics feed intelligence.
Just as today, certain tribal members were more gifted than others in intelligence, and hence linguistics. Almost certainly, those creative, lucky few who possessed the ability to play with words, create new ideas and link them to associated sounds, widened the breadth and depth of the tribes local language, and were most certainly revered, and perhaps even feared. After all, the more words and subsequent definitions a tribe has at its disposal, the more they can accomplish to better their condition. Instead of a brutal, clenched fist dominant male taking natural command of a tribe, as in the case of apes and early hominids, the intellectual word-crafter became the new symbol of authority and alpha-power. It is this reason the we follow those who are perceived as effective orators today.
Look at the success of the world's most effective speakers, from Jesus Christ, Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin and Nathan Hale on the cooperative, enlightened side of man's thinking, to Adolph Hitler, Stalin and Osama Ben Laden on the instigating, myopic tribalistic side. Subject material aside, no one can deny that these powerful speakers had or have the unique ability to influence millions to their bidding via the spoken word. This is a direct result of this evolutionary prescribed 'magnetic attraction' we have to great linguists. We simply cannot resist them. It is burned into us by our very design.
So where does David Letterman fit in?
David Letterman and his brethren, Johnny Carson, Jay Lenno et. al., are merely borrowing on this innate human need to follow and lend attention to those who exhibit a mastery of the spoken word. Late night talk show hosts specialize in the emotion called humor, as humor i
page has been viewed 7017 times