When The Late Show With David Letterman airs its final episode on Wednesday, May 20, it won’t just be the end of a program that has provided thousands upon thousands of hours of comedy. Nor will it just mean the end of an era of late-night television, though that will also be true. Most importantly for some, it means there will be no more jokes or sketch ideas pitched to David Letterman that he considered too ridiculous, too stupid, too out there, or just plain too offensive to air. For comedy fans, hearing about those rejected ideas can often be just as good as seeing what makes it onto the actual show.
Luckily, former Late Show writer Nell Scovell has done us all a big favor. In a new article on Vulture, she collects writers for the show, past and present, as well as Letterman himself, to reminisce about the gags they pitched that never made it to air. In the telling, they end up delivering not only a homily to the best and worst ideas rejected for inclusion on The Late Show, but they also provide a sort of greatest hits package, with Letterman himself often recapping each writer’s best contribution. Really, just picturing an episode of the show in which everyone was hooked up to a lie detector, including the host, is its own reward.