Just yesterday, Mark Evanier linked to a YouTube video--well, seven linked videos, actually, comprising an entire episode of The David Letterman Show from 1980. This is the NBC daytime program that predated his tenure on NBC's Late Night and CBS' The Late Show.
This program usually described, by those few who have seen it, as (at best) the wrong show in the wrong time slot. Some commentaries make that sound like a compliment. Evanier says:
You get the feeling that he doesn't even take his own show seriously so why should you? Plus, he feels all alone out there...no sidekick, no bandleader with whom he has any rapport, etc. Doesn't it feel like half the staff didn't show up for work that day but they made Dave go out and do his show anyway? Add to this the largely non-responsive studio audience...I admit it. I did not watch this video all the way through. I think Mark would agree that this version of the show really underscores just what Paul Schaffer brings to the show.
Other than Paul, though, this looks like the same show Letterman has been doing all along. It's really amazing how little his essential Dave-ness has changed. A lot of it wasn't all that funny then, and still isn't, really.