Okay, first off: I swear I’m not the type to just dump youtube videos on friends and relatives. I do it only very, very selectively (ie, that talking kitten has to be INSANELY cute). So if you can bear with, watch until at least 2:05, when Letterman finally responds.
But this is not about Letterman. It’s about the wonderful creature called Brother Theodore:
When I first saw this bit on Letterman back in high school, I didn’t know what I was watching. Was this standup? Performance art? One of Dave’s tech guys they decided was odd enough to put on camera? I didn’t know, I just knew I loved it. You know the feeling: just when you think there’s nothing new under the sun, humanity delights and surprises you – like the first time I saw “Twin Peaks,” or the British “Office.”
I’ve heard Brother Theodore referred to as a “noted metaphysician, philosopher, and podiatrist,” and that’s as good a description as any I’ve heard for this description-defying shaman.
It’s also a glimpse of Letterman at the top of his game – have you ever seen anyone hold pencils with such sarcasm in your life?
By the way, this clip got me in trouble. I was so enamored of it I used the “rolling in the gutter” section of it for the quote in my yearbook. My mom never forgave me. She was a single mom and it was a struggle for her to put me through private high school. Totally understandable that she’d expect a little shout out in the yearbook, but unlike most kids, I did not include some kind of “TYSM Mom, Dad, Cheryl, Wiggie, Hurlo, Gladstones Party 4-ever” type drivel in my quote, but very much like most 16 year olds, I was too self absorbed to think of anyone besides myself.
I just didn’t want to crowd Brother Theodore’s brilliant words. Sorry, mom.
All selfishness aside, I do think Theodore Gottlieb holds up. And for those of you with any interest: he was born into a wealthy Jewish family in Dussedorf, ended up in Dachau concentration camp, survived, got deported after the war for chess hustling in Switzerland, made it to America where he worked as a janitor at Stanford. There he played and beat 30 professors at chess simultaneously before becoming a dockworker in San Francisco. He began his career as a monologuist doing dramatic Edgar Allan Poe recitals in the 40′s. The rest is history.
Now that’s a CV.