Ted Greenberg's The Complete Performer

Starring Emmy Award winning Letterman writer, Ted Greenberg!

Thank You Dave

Categories: Latest News
Posted: May 21, 2015

I started my career writing for David Letterman in the early days of his 30-plus year career. What an honor.
All I can say is thank you for that boost. And thank you for everything you’ve done over the past three decades.
You will be missed.


Saying Good-Bye to Letterman

Categories: Comedians,Comedy Shows,Latest News
Posted: May 7, 2015

As many of you know, I won an Emmy for my writing. For David Letterman in the early days of the show. It was a dream job in many ways–creating conceptual comedy sketches and being part of late night TV history.
As Letterman prepares to sign off air after three decades entertaining the masses, there are many retrospectives on his illustrious career. Here’s Vulture’s look back at the world of Dave. Former writers–including my writing partner David Yazbek–talk about the sketches that didn’t make it on air.
It’s fun to reminisce about those early days, and hear what excited the show’s writers over the years.
Thanks Dave.


Stephen Colbert on David Letterman

Categories: Latest News
Posted: April 24, 2014

As was reported weeks ago, David Letterman will retire next year. CBS did not waste time in naming a replacement: the facile Stephen Colbert. This week, Colbert stopped by The Late Show, chatted with his predecessor, took a selfie (everybody is doing it these days), and saw the seat he’s got to fill. For a full report on Colbert’s visit, read this New York Daily News article or watch the video below.

You will find no greater fan of The Colbert Report than I. Ok, there may be an ardent admirer or two. Colbert has created one of the most interesting characters on TV, his alter ego Stephen Colbert. The character is so inside baseball that sometimes people aren’t in on the joke or at least the sarcasm he has mastered. Through a hazy veil of pomp, arrogance and skewed worldview, Colbert dismantles the fallacies of government and culture like no other. Every night is a roast of American life.
As happy as I am for the man and his upcoming gig, I am equally sad that we won’t be able to tune into The Colbert Report in 2015. Truly, it will be one show that will be missed.

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David Letterman To Retire Next Year

Categories: Latest News
Posted: April 7, 2014

Big late night talk show news last week. David Letterman will retire in 2015. I had the pleasure of being part of the show’s early years, and am sad, like everyone else, to hear that he will leave the airwaves next year. He has transformed late night TV with his sardonic wit and conceptual humor that was a nice antidote to Johnny Carson and Tom Snyder.
For more than three decades, he’s entertained and surprised America with his Top Ten Lists, Stupid Pet Tricks, interviews with his late mother and celebrity guests who adore him, and great musical acts. I’ve written before about Andy Kaufman and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler on the show and the wild interviews he conducted. There will never be another like Letterman.
I wish him well in his retirement. And, I’m grateful that I had the chance to work on such a groundbreaking show. Of course, I’m intrigued, like everyone else, to learn who will ‘replace’ him. We all know his not replaceable.

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Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler on David Letterman

Categories: Comedians,Latest News
Posted: September 24, 2012

When wrestler Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler had a heart attack on TV a couple weeks ago, I was reminded of his inflammatory appearance on David Letterman’s show while I worked there in the 1980s. Lawler, clearly confident in who he is, chose a nickname that was already taken in his hometown, Memphis, by one of the biggest stars the world over, Elvis Presley. Here’s a brilliant tribute to his talents and his work in the Memphis wrestling world. Yet, he’s carved out a national presence for himself, partially predicated on his tussles with the late comedian Andy Kaufman. Perhaps one of the greatest comedic performance art performances.
Kaufman made fun of low brow wrestling, and Lawler stood up to the challenge. After a wrestling match in which Lawler ‘piledrived’ Kaufman — essentially dropping him on his head — the duo met up on Late Night with David Letterman. Kaufman sported a neck brace, and threatened to sue Lawler for his injury. Well, things don’t go well. Lawler gets in a few jokes and the slap heard around the world. Here are is the video of the famous incidence. It is NSFW.

Here’s to a speedy recovery Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler.

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My Former Boss Gets an Award | David Letterman to Receive Kennedy Center Honor

Categories: Comedians,Latest News
Posted: September 20, 2012

The Kennedy Center Honors has lauded members of the creative arts for their contributions to American culture. This year’s honorees include musician Buddy Guy, actor/director Dustin Hoffman, ballerina Natalia Makarova, and rock band Led Zeppelin. Nearly 20 years after late night talk show pioneer Johnny Carson received his award, David Letterman, my former boss, will receive his.
I’m thrilled for Letterman. I was honored to work as a writer on the early days of Late Night with David Letterman, even winning an Emmy, and there is no one like him. His top ten lists are enduring and part of the national fabric. His interviews are classic. Think about Joaquin Phoenix (nothing was weirder than this) or Teri Garr (I posted about hers before) or Julia Roberts or any presidential candidate. Letterman is golden, witty, incisive and entertaining. Always. And, no one has incorporated their mother into their TV show the way Letterman did. No one. Check out the Joaquin Phoenix interview below.

Mazel tov to you, David Letterman, on this well deserved honor. And what great company you keep. Buddy Guy, Dustin Hoffman and Led Zeppelin are legends in music (Buddy Guy and Led Zeppelin) and film and theater (Dustin Hoffman). Ballerina Natalia Makarova, who isn’t as well known as her counterparts, is also phenomenal. Enjoy receiving the honor and meeting with President Obama. You deserve it.
The honorees are nominated by members of the Kennedy Center’s national artists committee as well as previous recipients of the award. I found this tidbit interesting. Oprah Winfrey, a previous honoree and one-time Letterman nemesis, made recommendations for this year’s award. Maybe burying the hatchet with Oprah years ago after the Oscars fiasco was a fantastic idea. Here’s their make-up interview.

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Ted Greenberg’s Top Five Taxi Entertainments

Categories: Taxi Cabs
Posted: December 6, 2011

As the writer/performer of the only Off-Broadway comedy show with a free cab ride home, I’m often asked my opinion about the portrayal of taxi drivers and taxis in movies and on television.  As a taxi cab driver, I, of course, have a strong opinion on the matter.


Here’s my list for my Top 5 Taxi Entertainments:


1) Taxi DriverMartin Scorsese’s 1976 dark film about a former Vietnam vet turned taxi driver (Robert De Niro in a groundbreaking role) inspired me to get my hack license in the 1980s.  From the moment I saw this classic film, I was in awe of how the film captured Gotham’s haunting allure, especially the night scenes.

 Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver, Ted Greenberg's Top Five Taxi Entertainments.

2) Women on the Verge of a Nervous BreakdownPedro Almodovar’s zany 1988 film features one of the most outrageous taxis in the history of the world.  With a whimsical cab interior that’s equal parts Liberace and Lady Gaga, I’m not sure why anyone would ever get out of this vehicle. Last year, a musical stage adaptation of the film opened on Broadway. My childhood friend and David Letterman co-writer David Yazbek wrote the show’s music and lyrics and received a Tony Award nomination for Outstanding Score. And, the production’s taxi driver (Danny Burstein) was as hilarious and riveting as Guillermo Montesinos was in the film.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown taxi photo


3) Night on Earth – Filmmaker Jim Jarmusch has great hair. Great white hair.  The Mascot and I are NOT jealous. Not jealous at all.  Mainly because he also makes really great films.  His 1991 effort Night on Earth follows five cab drivers in five cities – New York, Paris, Helsinki, Los Angeles and Rome.  While I wouldn’t mind having Beatrice Dalle as a passenger (she is fantastic as a blind Parisian), I’m a New Yorker at heart. Just like Jarmusch.
Photo from Night on Earth, 1991 film by Jim Jarmusch


4) Taxi – Having been nominated twice for the Andy Kaufman Award, how can I not love the iconic TV show that starred the comic genius alongside Judd Hirsch, Marilu Henner, Danny De Vito, Tony Danza and the late Jeff Conway?

Taxi TV show starring Andy Kaufman


5) Friends – On the famous comedy TV show, Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) was bequeathed a yellow cab by her grandmother.  The cab was featured in the show on occasion, including a visit to Phoebe’s mom in season 3.  Her mom was played by the inimitable Teri Garr, who turned in comic gold performances in Young Frankenstein, Mr. Mom and Tootsie and was a regular guest on the David Letterman show while I was a writer there.  Here’s a video of Garr’s 1987 visit to Letterman:




What’s your favorite taxi featured in a film, TV show or play?

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