The First Ultimate David Letterman Article

david letterman scholarship tom gulley
Well, the big announcement came down last week and everyone’s still getting used to the idea. David Letterman’s closing down the circus in 2015.

So like most people across this great big beautiful land of ours, you’re probably asking yourself the crucial, intruguing question about this milestone titanic shift in the entertainment landscape:

“How will all this affect Tom Gulley?”

As the first recipient of the David Letterman Scholarship--I, too, have been wrestling with this question since the stomach-churning, world-shattering annoucement that Dave would no longer be doing his hugely successful show. Which was also the simultaneous moment of realization that my three decade long coat-tail ride was nearing an abrupt end.

But don’t worry. I’ll be OK. I just have a few things to get over.

WAY less undeserved instant notoriety. Don’t know if you’ve ever spent 30 years getting a major boost at parties and group gatherings from being associated with a famous entertainer, but if you ever get the chance you should do it. It’s a rush. Even the most successful insurance salesman, plumbing supply rep, or blind proctologist at the party will fall by the wayside after a Dave mention.

No more trips to NYC to see the show. Actually, I’ve only been to the show once. Way back in ’86. And I LIVED 45 minutes away from the Ed Sullivan Theater for a year. But the notion that I could rip myself away from marathons of The Rifleman and Due South to visit the show and impress my girlfriend du jour was always comforting in a procrastinatory way.

Having to say “David Letterman. He was a talk show host” to the help in whatever nursing home I end up in. Increasingly, the younger and less aware population in this country has lost touch with the awesomeness of Mr. Dave Letterman. It’s like watching Wilt Chamberlain in his last game. He’s still the best ever, but because he’s been doing it forever and he was so incredible at the start, his brilliance and longevity start to seem blasé to some in the World Of Snark circa 2014. I’m sure I’ll have to explain this to someone feeding me oatmeal in the 2030’s.

No more invitations to party with the first Paul Shaffer Scholarship winner. Little known fact: All the first scholarship winners of famous entertainers have a secret society. The first Bruce Willis, Huey Lewis, Madonna, Katie Couric, and Howie Mandel scholarship winners and I are not known as The Brat Pack Lite any more, but we still manage to get together and talk about how far short of our benefactors’ accomplishments we’ve all fallen.

Not being able to watch my idol & benefactor any damn night of the week. I imagine that, inside the home of the guy who owns the company that makes the finest caviar in the known world, they don’t have caviar very often. Kinda how I view the Letterman show. Took it for granted. Now, I only got a year’s more caviar there in the fridge Monday thru Friday any time I please. And, I’m sorry, Jimmy Fallon ain’t caviar. He’s more of a really good Hot Pocket.

Very little time left to become famous enough to be ON Letterman. (And forget any chances of getting on the writing staff because I didn’t go to Harvard.) OK, I realize I could do something actually worthy of being on Letterman. I could be the subject of an internet meme, or I could marry Julia Roberts, or I could learn to make shadow puppets of Abe Lincoln with my tongue. But we all know Thomas Gulley miraculously being endowed with the skills to achieve those uberlofty heights is a big laugh. A big, sooty, smoky, sarcastic laugh from your aunt who inhales Camels and talks like she's gargling a loogey. So, unless there’s a “March Of The Letterman Scholars” on The Late Show, it’s kinda moot.

Becoming more of a relic at Ball State University. Ever been to a small town when they roll out the oldest surviving veteran of WWII? Yeah, that’s how I feel sometimes when I return to the Harvard Of The Midwest. I have socks older than those kids.

There’ll be articles to follow on all the aspects of The Letterman Thing. After all, I’ve got a year or so. Which doesn’t sound that great considering it took me 30 years to graduate from college.

Tom Gulley (recipient of the David Letterman Scholarship) is an award-winning writer, broadcaster, and journalist who regularly creates brilliant communications for some of the world’s biggest companies. Especially the ones you admire. He’s available for writing, creative strategy, digital communications, talk show hosting, voice talent work, kid’s birthday parties, and free 24-hour Martinizing. And his name never fails to get a big laugh when mentioned in small groups at parties.

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