Gone for a month, Letterman returns with jokes about his ailment
Tuesday, April 1st 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
NEW YORK (AP) _ After five weeks on sick leave, David Letterman returned to CBS' ``The Late Show'' acting happy, jazzed and just a little bit wacky.
``I am still under the influence of high-powered pharmaceuticals,'' he explained Monday. ``If it turns out the show goes great, I've still got the guy's number.''
Letterman has been recuperating from a painful case of shingles, an infection of the nerve roots caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox.
``It hurt so much I was Michael Jackson-crazy,'' Dave raved.
With that in mind, the evening's Top 10 List summed up all the good things about shingles. It was a list of just one statement declaring there is nothing good about shingles _ but expressing that sentiment in far more colorful terms.
With a series of guest hosts subbing for him since Feb. 26, Letterman may have been out of sight, but he hasn't been out of touch.
``You know how they cured my shingles?'' he asked in a sly reference to the nation's current state of alert: ``Duct tape!''
Then, with a proud smirk, he added, ``Thirty days it took me to get over the shingles _ and according to (Secretary of Defense) Donald Rumsfeld that's right on schedule.''
He welcomed as his first guest Billy Crystal, who with dread amusement recalled his own case of shingles.
``I couldn't put a sheet on me!'' said Crystal, who then took a close look at Letterman's eyes and chuckled, ``Hey, you're really waxed!''
For Letterman, who turns 56 on April 12, the evening was a loopier version of the joyous welcome he got in February 2000, when he returned to the Ed Sullivan Theater after missing five weeks for heart bypass surgery. At the time he brought onstage his six doctors and two nurses from New York-Presbyterian Hospital and tearfully thanked them for saving his life.
Monday night, pretending to get emotional, he introduced his dermatologist who diagnosed and treated his shingles.
``I'm back from my annual bypass!'' Dave told his fans.