Thank goodness David Letterman isn’t taking retirement too seriously. In one of four new episodes of “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction,” premiering Wednesday on Netflix, 73-year-old established legend Letterman sits down with 32-year-old future legend Lizzo in one of the most spirited, revealing interviews of her burgeoning career. The chat includes plenty about her time in Minneapolis, including an anecdote about her last time with Prince in which her mentor started crying after playing for her his piano version of “Purple Rain.”
Overall, she has nice things to say about her six years among us, although she practically shivers when the topic of winter comes up.
“Minneapolis has to have something magnetic about it for me to brave that cold,” says the rapper, who grew up in Detroit and Houston.
She also has mixed feelings about the time she lived in the Twin Cities suburbs, paying the bills by working at a McCormick & Schmick’s restaurant. She describes Edina as “so rich, white,” a city where residents would comment on how her Afro must be “fun.”
Letterman uses the conversation to resurrect an anecdote about how he once turned down a local weatherman gig because he couldn’t imagine dealing with the snow.
He also questions whether it’s really possible that Minneapolis has a vibrant music scene.
Lizzo defends her old stamping grounds.
“To this day, it’s really cool,” says Lizzo, who made her TV debut on “The Late Show With David Letterman” six years ago.
Later in the interview, Letterman marvels over Lizzo’s collection of crystals and flutes with the kind of genuine interest he rarely displayed during his network TV days. Part of the Letterman allure back then was his disinterest in the guests. That attitude made for great comedy, but weak banter.
Now, with more time and less pressure, Letterman is 100% present, playing the role of superfan without morphing into Jimmy Fallon.
That approach serves him well. After he gives Kim Kardashian West props for her business savvy, the reality star opens up about her “uncle” O.J. Simpson and her brush with death during a Paris robbery. Dave Chappelle, who seems touched by the fact that Letterman bothered to watch “Half Baked,” goes deeper than usual about his Muslim faith and his abrupt departure from Comedy Central.
Letterman also uses the tried-but-true tactic of opening up about himself to persuade others to do the same. During his interview with Robert Downey Jr. he shares details about his battle with addiction; that makes it easier for Iron Man to follow suit.
One of the most satisfying aspects of “My Next Guest” has been the remote shoots, a throwback to the early days of “Late Night” when Letterman was still willing to wander outside the studio.
The pandemic has limited those bits in this third season (two of the four new episodes were shot after the crisis hit) but we still get to watch Letterman improvise during a CVS shopping spree with Kardashian West, which took place before March. During a visit to Downey’s farm, he appoints himself “pooper scooper,” beaming with pride as he fulfills his duties in a pig pen.
At Lizzo’s house, he agrees to lay down a rap track with Lizzo playing engineer.
It’s a song that won’t be crawling up the pop charts, but longtime Letterman fans will consider it one of his greatest hits.