After building his career as a talk show host over the course of 33 years, David Letterman has established himself as a household name. Three years following his retirement from “Late Show” in 2015, Letterman decided to embark on another project, one that caters toward streaming services rather than cable television. The first season of “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman” premiered on Netflix on Jan. 12, 2018 and has since gained positive reception for its unusual format and intuitive conversations, differing from the typical talk show routine. Two seasons later, “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction” released its third season Wednesday. Despite sudden COVID-19 restrictions risking the untimely halt of production, Letterman was still able to participate in engaging discussions with four guests, one for each episode.
Fulfilling its title, the show’s first guest really didn’t need an introduction considering audiences have kept up with her and her family for over 10 years. Although Kim Kardashian West’s fame—and her reason for fame—has been designated by the general public as an example of society’s superficial values, Kardashian had insightful answers to Letterman’s questions regarding her role in sentencing reform.
Kardashian cited her father’s law career and her privileged lifestyle growing up as the inspiration behind her interest in law school. She described her initial reaction to Alice Johnson’s case, who had been sentenced to life in prison “for a first-time, nonviolent drug offense.”
“We grew up in a really blessed lifestyle in Beverly Hills,” Kardashian said. “We had an amazing life and before, I was really oblivious to other people’s problems. And then, I saw this tweet of Alice Johnson, and the simplicity of the fact that someone that did their first offense, a low-level drug offense, got the same sentence as Charles Manson, it just didn’t make sense to me … and it was extremely important to me to shed light on it.”
“We had an amazing life and before, I was really oblivious to other people’s problems. And then, I saw this tweet of Alice Johnson, and the simplicity of the fact that someone that did their first offense, a low-level drug offense, got the same sentence as Charles Manson, it just didn’t make sense to me … and it was extremely important to me to shed light on it.”Kim Kardashian-West
The tweet about Johnson was posted in October of 2017, which Kardashian promptly retweeted two days after its posting. Her later visit to the White House was heavily surveyed by the media, who were shocked that a reality TV star was discussing matters of prison and sentencing reform with the president. Even more shocking was the fact that Kardashian’s efforts resulted in President Donald Trump granting clemency to Johnson, who was released from prison a week after their meeting in the Oval Office.
Aside from sentencing reform, Kardashian’s family was the prime subject of Letterman and Kardashian’s conversation, including their ties with O.J. Simpson, whom she always referred to as “Uncle O.J.,” the impact of Caitlyn Jenner’s transition and their support after Kardashian’s traumatic experience of getting robbed in Paris.
Two episodes later, however, it became obvious that the effects of COVID-19 had already taken its toll on production, with shots of crew members in masks getting their temperatures checked. This change in dynamic did not stop Letterman from interviewing his third episode’s guest: stand-up comedian Dave Chappelle.
The pair went over topics relating to Chappelle’s first interview with Letterman in 1993, his reasons for quitting his comedy show, the value of his newfound community in Yellow Springs, Ohio, his experience being a Muslim, his unconventional approach to fame and perhaps most importantly, his thoughts on the Black Lives Matter Movement, which had culminated at the time of the episode’s filming.
When asked about the possibility of change being made, Chappelle gave a compelling answer.
“I’m not making any predictions,” Chappelle said. “Of course, I am very hopeful, yes, that there will be real change. And just traditionally from my experience, change is never a comfortable proposition. It’s uncomfortable before it’s comfortable again. It’ll be quite a negotiation. If you think of it as a negotiation, how the f— do you negotiate with Derek Chauvin?”
He continued to elaborate on the subject in regard to George Floyd and the current social climate of the U.S.
“If Russia is, in fact, exploiting our racist tendencies to dissolve our union, then you’d have to look at something like racism as a matter of national security,” Chappelle said. “If the people that execute your laws are kneeling on people’s necks, you have no country. You have to stop that s—. That’s why these people are storming the streets, because they want to save their country. It makes perfect sense.”
“If the people that execute your laws are kneeling on people’s necks, you have no country. You have to stop that s—. That’s why these people are storming the streets, because they want to save their country. It makes perfect sense.”Dave Chappelle
Social reform, like prison reform, is not an easy matter for talk shows to address. “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman” goes against this by asking questions that combine a healthy balance of comedy and real-life issues which call for carefully thought-out answers from guests. If you are interested in watching these conversations or are curious about how guests like Robert Downey Jr. and Lizzo performed in their interviews, season three is now available on Netflix.