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Ranking the 5 best David Letterman guests ‘My Next Guest Needs No Introduction’

David Letterman himself needs no introduction. The former host of The Late Show With David Letterman, his 33-year-old NBC stint came to an end in 2015. His shows mainly included celebrities who came over for promotional purposes and had a heart-to-heart chat with him. While those conversations were usually light, breezy and sometimes saucy (yes, Drew Barrymore flashing Letterman was bizarre and inappropriate), his latest Netflix show My Next Guest Needs No Introduction is more poignant, intimate and politically charged. 

My Next Guest Needs No Introduction began in 2018 and had three seasons with a celebrity guest in each episode, ranging from actors, rappers, comedians and politicians. The Emmy-nominated show was followed by a special with Shah Rukh Khan after the third season in 2020 and has been well-received due to its intimate setting. 

Truly inspiring and insightful, the artists talk about their early life, influences and setbacks while tracing their careers. They make insightful comments and often voice out their concerns and stands on various socio-political and socio-economic scenarios. 

While Letterman has had a total of 18 guests, five interviews remain the most polarising and thought-provoking. Here are the five best David letterman guests on his Netflix show My Next Guest Needs No Introduction:

Ranking the 5 best David Letterman guests on Netflix’s ‘My Next Guest Needs No Introduction’

5. Lizzo

Melissa Viviane Jefferson aka Lizzo and Letterman assemble at her home maintaining pandemic protocols to talk about Lizzo’s early life and career trajectory that finally catapulted her to global superstardom. Lizzo is brutally honest and endearing as her gratitude for Letterman shines through; his former Late Show featured her first-ever televised performance in 2014. 

The three-time Grammy winner and Time’s 2019 Entertainer of the Year, Lizzo’s moving interview takes the audience into her past in Detroit where she spent her childhood before moving to Houston with her family. She talks about her love for flutes, her relationship with the late Prince, her anxieties and frustrations regarding people’s perception of her artistry and body and the stereotypes of being a female rapper.

Throughout the episode, her love for her work shines through. Her confidence and positivity are infectious as she talks about body positivity, mental health and more, tracing her evolution as a person and an artist, before taking Letterman on a walkthrough of her incredible flute collection.  

4. Jay-Z

Legendary rapper Jay-Z or Shawn Corey Carter has 13 solo albums and the highest number of Grammy Awards for a rapper, standing at 22. Jay-Z is an icon. His interview with letterman is an examination of artistry from different cultures, races and backgrounds. It is heartfelt and profound and inspirational.

Incredibly intimate, Letterman helps present a framework for Jay-Z to talk about, along the lines of childhood, family and success, making the episode an incredible visual experience. Before Letterman visits the legendary Shangri-La recording studio of Rick Rubin, Jay-Z dwells on honest and vulnerable topics from his childhood, including his troubled upbringing, an absent father, his early life involving drug-peddling, his mother’s difficult but rewarding journey with sexual liberation etc. Jay then moves on the evolution of hip hop and the legendary rivalry between the East and West Coast rappers, before delving into the mind of a troubled artistic genius whose vision lies embedded in his desire to empower Black artists.

3. Malala Yousafzai 

Malala Yousafzai is a true inspiration. Her constant courage and unwavering fearlessness helped make a difference in the world and even won her a Nobel prize for her brilliant determination even in the face of death, after being shot by the Taliban. While Letterman strays the conversations into certain light-hearted zones, the entire episode is poignant and profound and provides an intimate insight into Malala’s extraordinaire. 

Letterman delves deep into her childhood in Pakistan where she voiced out against the Taliban’s oppressive regime and fought for women’s rights, education and independence which made her a target. While giving her a tour through the campus of Oxford University, they discuss political activism and how her family’s educators influenced her to fight for universal education. It also features an interview with Malala’s father who discusses his own beliefs and activism with Letterman. 

2. Barack Obama 

Letterman began his show with a bang involving the former President of the United States, Barack Obama as his first guest. With a perfect balance between wit, humour and awareness, Obama’s genius is a rarity among politicians. The episode provides an intimate insight into Obama’s sensibility following the end of his tenure. 

Obama’s interview was conducted in a particularly politically tumultuous time and was a great relief for people who were desperately seeking a politically sound and intelligent voice of reason. From talking about his early life and childhood which included an absent father and an impressionable mother,  Obama moves on to discuss politics, voting rights, the new politically aware generation and the contemporary Trump administration. While visiting the Edmund Petras Bridge in Selma, Obama provides a brilliant insight into Rep John Lewis’ contribution to equality, justice and politics in the United States. 

1. Shah Rukh Khan 

Shah Rukh Khan, the man that he is, deserves the standalone special episode with David letterman. Uploaded a few days after the show’s third season, the episode featuring Shah Rukh Khan is inarguably the best David Letterman episode on Netflix with raw honesty, humour and laughs galore. 

Shah Rukh Khan is the world’s biggest Bollywood star and is often referred to as King Khan in India. Truly an emperor of people’s hearts, Khan is regarded for his charm, confidence and quick-witted presence. He is passionate about his craft and expresses his love for his country and culture unabashedly. In the episode, he matches David’s punch with an equally smart quip, is vulnerable and honest and expresses the insecurities of an artist, all the while remaining modest and humble as he usually is.

From his early life to his career trajectory and various other scandals in his early days, Shah Rukh Khan’s episode chronicles his growth as a human being and his evolution into a superstar who is loved by one and all.