The First Line of Defense Against America's Nuts:

My Five Month Internship With "Late Night"

Well, the hungry staffers put the ribs in the store room and opened season on the package. Madeleine walked in about five minutes into the feast and started screaming. The ribs, it turned out, were supposed to be a surprise birthday present for her boyfriend.

A week later, another box of ribs arrived--this time a real pitch. Nobody touched them.

What Famous People Did You Meet?

Between answering phones, delivering t-shirts and papers to the studio and sitting in the make-up room during the show, I met or talked to most of the guests who came on the show. We didn't hold extended conversations, but the interns could hover as long as we weren't noticed.

No matter how unglamorous it may seem, there is still something exciting about saying, "Frank will be with you in just a second" to Corben Bernson or Lou Diamond Phillips. My biggest coup was talking to Teller of "Penn and Teller," the magical comedy team. Teller is the one who never gets to say anything on stage.


After the war, I rode down an elevator with Arthur Kent, neatly clothed in the latest Gap-wear, and a horde of NBC executives in suits. Kent was relating the scuba diving story he had been telling on every interview show in New York and the execs were lapping it up. did anyone see "Broadcast News"?

Did You Go to Any Big Industry Events?

The second week of my internship was the ninth anniversary of the show. Usually, there is a prime time special on location, but they were saving their energy for the big 10th anniversary show this February in Radio City Music Hall, so we got a party.

Meg, the woman from the building across the street was there. Also, the Library Lady, Tony Randall, Gene Shalit, some Saturday Night Live staff and many people I didn't recognize. The party was during the war and NBC security mandated that everyone--from Tom Brokaw to the interns--wear I.D. cards at all times. Dave showed up with his I.D. still hanging around his neck.

I'm Your #1 Fan

For me, David Letterman is the last person on TV who would need to wear a nametag. He is one of the most recognizable figures currently on the air. He has his own cult of fans, and by now, I am one of the biggest.

The "Late Night" internship is certainly not one of the most traditional opportunities listed in the books at the Office of Career Services, but being anti-tradition is a big theme of the show. I figured coming from one of the most traditional schools in the country would only make the semester that much more of a break.

Now that I am back and about to hit the books again, I keep an inspirational quote on the wall above my computer. It's a little statement by a comedy writer that a former intern, who is now a researcher on staff, cut out of a newspaper during his internship.

The man said, "My daughter's off to Harvard this fall and I told her, 'You're not going to four years of college to work on 'The Letterman Show.'" Not surprisingly, my father had said the exact same thing.

Beth L. Pinsker '93 is the assistant editorial chair of The Harvard Crimson. She spent spring of '91 as an interm for "Late Night With David Letterman," researching her thesis, "'Larry Bad' Melman: American Hero."

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