My Appearance on Letterman

I managed to get tickets for my wife and me to be in the audience of the "Late Show with David Letterman" on Wednesday, June 7, 2006. (I was in NY for a conference [HLT-NAACL 2006].)

Knowing that Letterman talks with the audience before the show, and sometimes refers to an audience member if what they say gets his attention, I thought up a question to ask in case I got the chance.

After lots of audience warm-up, Letterman came out without his jacket, leaned on a TV camera, and chatted with the audience a bit. He asked if there were any questions, and looked at the other end of the audience. He called on a woman over there, who turned out to be from New Orleans. They talked about how the Katrina recovery was going. Then he looked our way and said "Any other questions?"

My hand shot up, and no one else raised theirs. So he called on me, and said "Hi, what's your name? Where are you from?" I said "Bob, from Pittsburgh." When I opened my mouth to ask my question, Dave said, "Go Steelers! Am I right?" Of course I said "yeah!", and we all applauded. When I opened my mouth again, he said "Go Steelers!" again, and we applauded again. Then he said we were out of time, and went back to get ready.

The rest is history. They started taping, he came out, thanked the audience, and said, "Before we begin tonight, I'd just like to say one thing: Go Steelers." They cut to a shot of me (and half of my wife's face) in the audience (see below), then back to Letterman, who said:

"That's Bob from Pittsburgh."

This was of course way beyond my wildest expectations.

Next goal: to appear as an actual guest.

If you click on the screenshot, you'll see a video clip of my "15 seconds of fame"! (I'm working on making a better screenshot.)
There's also a longer clip (13.5 megabytes) from the start of the show through my appearance (for skeptics).