Acclaimed television host, David Letterman, is back with a new season of his Netflix talk show “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.” The talk show has garnered popularity and acclaim over the years for its wide array of big-time names such as former U.S. President Barack Obama, Kanye West and Melinda Gates.
In the latest installments of “My Next Guest,” Letterman sits down with businesswoman and media personality Kim Kardashian, actor Robert Downey Jr., famed comedian Dave Chappelle and singer-songwriter Lizzo.
As has been the case since the start of the series, the four-episode season (shortened due to COVID-19) provided insightful yet down-to-earth conversations about a plethora of topics including prison reform, the intricacies of show business and police brutality.
The talk show stands out with the straightforward nature of Letterman’s interviews, bringing out a certain degree of vulnerability in each of his guests, as was the case in the Kardashian interview. The well-known celebrity walks Dave through the many high-profile moments of her life, including her father’s involvement in the OJ Simpson murder trial and eventually recounts being robbed at gunpoint inside a hotel in Paris in 2016, nearly breaking down in the process. Letterman goes on to diligently bring attention to the celebrity’s prison reform efforts and the controversy surrounding her visit to the White House.
Letterman’s tendency to lay out hard-hitting questions is prominent in his interview with comedian Dave Chappelle, as he presses Chappelle for his reasoning behind his decision to leave the hit sketch-comedy “Chappelle’s Show.” Chappelle, who appeared visibly uncomfortable at the slightly overbearing question, eventually warms up to Letterman and admits to having doubts about how certain sketches were being perceived, referencing a time when he heard the “wrong laugh” during a segment with Chappelle in blackface.
While the humor and entertainment is still there, the talk show excels in its deep dive into the background and lives of the guests, aided by the signature lighthearted theatrics of David Letterman. Robert Downey Jr. is no exception to this treatment. In an episode that featured the actor’s Malibu ranch and his herd of alpacas, the two discuss the “Iron Man” star’s history with addiction, admitting the near fatal toll it took on his career, and his path to redemption.
In a time of political turmoil and unrest, Letterman and his guests — specifically Chappelle and Lizzo — also discuss the importance of activism and community involvement in an era of divisiveness.
While the series is not exactly anything new, it demonstrates David Letterman’s versatility as an interviewer as we observe a departure from his comedy-driven talk shows to more candid discourse that allows for a handful of emotional moments. Ultimately, the season was a rather small one — justifiably so — but the tender portrayal of its guests makes for a compelling watch and is telling of David Letterman’s transition from interviews that prioritized humor to more intimate conversations that are uncompromisingly honest. While some of Letterman’s piercing questions may come across as intrusive, the engaging conversations they spark are enough to look past that.
Verdict: David Letterman’s latest talk show project features a captivating lineup and its toned-down atmosphere makes for engaging conversations that are insightful, occasionally amusing and intimate — all the while maintaining elements of humor that are just enough to draw some laughs.