Listen: 1981 David Letterman interview on Fresh Air with Terry Gross

In light of David Letterman’s announcement last night that he will retire from Late Show in 2015 — watch the video here — the fine folks at NPR and Fresh Air with Terry Gross, unearthed this excellent interview with Letterman from 1981. The interview on Fresh Air went down after his morning variety show on NBC was canceled and a few months before Late Night with David Letterman premiered.

Although the interview with Terry Gross is far-ranging, one of the more interesting parts, especially given historical context, is when Letterman opines on the best comedians of the time. He lists Bill Cosby and Steve Martin and then describes Jay Leno as “probably the best at observational material.” Who knew the two would become fierce competitors in the world of late night?

Listen to the complete interview below. And if you want to read more highlights, check out the Fresh Air summary.

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