David Letterman's Catch Phrases

(compiled by alt.fan.letterman regulars)


"actual questions from actual viewers... If they weren't actual questions, would I be able to do this?" (snaps blue card)

"A little dialing music, Paul."

"a question we've axed ourselves o'er and o'er again..."

"All the kids love me."

"America's favorite preserved meat giveaway."

"and finally, on the external camera... Ladies and gentlemen... New Jersey!"

"and for the life of me, I don't know why..."

"and free balloons for the kids!"

"and it's known as Hellmann's® east of the Rockies (refers to a small informational line on the label of a jar of Best Foods Mayonnaise)

"and I think we all know just how painful that can be..."

"and much, much more, as they say when they're lying..."

"and now the most annoying thing on television... the ceremonial presentation of the letters..."

"and then, on Tuesday..." (after naming the guests for the entire coming week)

"and what, bite it for a burst of flavor?"

"Anton, please."

"Are those drums for sale?"

"Are those your drums?"

"Are you chewin' gum? We can't continue the show until you spit that out!"

"Are you cookin' beans?"

"Are you selling any pie?" (the pizza store next to the show)

"Are you sure we have enough time?"

"As I get older, I have less and less to say. The problem is I can't stop talking."   2/14/13

"At Harrison Ford, we treat you right!" (Bring the wife, and we'll dicker.")


"Because I care about you, the home viewer..."

"big-time show bidness"

"blow the roof off the dump"

"Boy, am I glad I wore my new tie!!"

"Boy, is my face red!"

"But you know..."

"By the way, ladies and gentlemen... this stuff in lieu of actual entertainment."

"By the way, that is permitted."


"Call a cab, and take the tape of tonight's show straight to the Museum of Broadcasting."

"Call Costas and tell him to cool his heels. We just have too much show tonight."

"Can you come back every night? That would be great!"

"Check it out, Dave... Can I have a ride home?" (quote from Creepy Dave)

"Corners like a snake in a rat hole!"

"Could we get you a moist towelette?"

"Crystal Clear Party Ice®: now available in opaque..."


"Dave, was that really how you spent the holiday at home?" (Paul, after bogus footage with models)

"deadbeats and ne'er-do-wells"

"Did you see or touch any monkeys?" (Stephanie Birkitt's forbidden question, possibly first asked on January 7, 2002)

"Do me a favor, ladies and gentlemen. Take the batteries out of the remote control, and stay awhile."

"Do we have a show for you tonight!" (and sometimes, "Do we have a show?")

"Do you get the HBO, Paul?"

"Does this look infected to you?"

"Don't make me come up there and fight you!"

"Don't try this at home! Go to a neighbor's house."

"Don't worry, it's just radioactive steam."


"Eeeeesabella Rossalini"

"Ehh... no dice!"

"ever since we came on the air back in the late 1950s"


"For the love of God, folks, don't try this at home."

"From the home office in                 ..."


"Get in the car! Get out of the car! Get back in the car!" (Dave's Broderick Crawford impression)

"Get me a towel, Pedro."

"Get yourself a cab..."

"goofy as a duck on ether..."

"Granny, it's time to get Jethro out of the ceement pond."

"... gruff but loveable Gus..."


"Have a seat, Dave. Thank you, don't mind if I do."

"He shot me the ol' skunk eye".

"He's just not wired up correctly."

"Hell, let's see it again!"

"Hello everyone, my name is Dave, The Most Powerful Man in American Broadcasting."

"Hello, girls!"

"Helsinki, my ass."

"Hep me! Hep me! I been hyp-mo-tized!"

"Here are the statistics, or as they are call 'em back in Indiana, suhtistics."

"Here in my left hand is tonight's top ten list!"

"Here's a message just for the kids. Heyyyy, kids!"

"Here's tonight's Top Ten list. Let's try this."

"Hey, how much for the Buick?" (Pete Fatovich, catch phrase contest entry)

"Hey, Inky!"

"Hey, kids, it's only television!"

"Hey, Paul, when does that Saturday Night Live show come on? When do they tape it, anyways?"

"Hey, Pepe..."

"Hey, would you like to buy a monkey?"

"Hey! That ain't egg nog!!"

"Hi Bob, hi Stan. How's the 'go' going?"

"Hold onto your wigs and keys."

"How long did it take you to write that, Paul?"

"How're we doin' on time now?"


"I almost feel like there should be a rabbi here." (Dave, on 1/12/89, while trimming a tie)

"I am a Fighting Cardinal, the fiercest robin-sized bird in all the world." (a Ball State Cardinal, this is, 9/13/00)

"I am Mr. Rock 'n Roll."

"I am the most powerful man in American broadcasting."

"I bought my first car at Harrison Ford."

"I could stack like a son-of-a-bitch."

"I do and do and do for you kids, and this is the thanks I get!" (Dave's impression of his mom.)

"I don't even know what that means."

"I don't know why, but we get thousands of letters from Holland whenever I do this with my jacket."

"I feel likes my head want to bust open."

"I hate the itching, but I don't mind the swelling."

"I have a personal theory about Madonna: She loves to shock people."

"I have the strength of ten men."

"I hope that this movie is a blockbuster of a hit for ya."

"I just fed my goldfish... to the kitty" (young girl, catch phrase contest entry)

"I like fat people, and I think a lot of people should be fat, and that's just fine..."

"I think I speak for all of America when I say, 'Shhheeeeshhh.' "

"I want you to know that a few seconds from now I'm going to seem to disappear. Please don't be afraid. I'm still really here. You'll be seeing a few commercials, but after that you'll see me again."

"I was on my way in to work today on the subway..."

"I wouldn't give his troubles to a monkey on a rock!"

"I wish I had a nickel..."

"I'd like to thank (name of guest here) for almost being here."

"I'll bet a million damn dollars..."

"I'll kick your ass!"

"I'll riffle. You point." (standard instruction to Gaines in "How's the weather?")

"I'm addicted to the damn country music!"

"I'm a sweet little cupcake... BAKED BY THE DEVIL!!" (catch phrase contest entry, 5/11/89)

"I'm Dave Letterman... Your TV Pal."

"I'm laughing on the outside, crying on the inside."

"I'm losing the will to live..."

"I'm nothing if not contemplative."

"I'm sorry. I had a couple of pre-show cocktails."

"I'm sorry, ladies and gentlemen. I've shredded the Top Ten."

"I'm the only thing on CBS right now."

"I'm working 365 days a year to entertain America."

"I's born on a mayonnaise farm."

"I've been busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest."

"I've been called worse things by better people".

"I've frightened the audience again, haven't I?"

"I've got that on me!" (Paul Shaffer, anytime large monetary amounts are mentioned by Dave)

"I've got to start coming to rehearsal."

"Ich habe ein Glas Milch getrunken. That's all the German I remember." ("I drank a glass of milk.")

"If I wore a hairpiece, do you honestly think it would look like this?"

"If it weren't actual Viewer Mail, would I be able to do this? (Dave, rattling the blue cards)

"If you're like me, and I pray to God you're not like me..."

"In Hollywood, Oscar is king!"

"in my pants!" (borrowed from Dave's old friend, George Miller)

"Is it cold in here?"

"Is they any more bananas?"

"Is this anything?"

"Is Zorro on?"

"It ain't gonna fly, Chester."

"It feels like something's wrong."

"It puts me in the mind of fairies." (Reinhold Marxhausen's Stardust music box)

"It took three guys to write this postcard."

"It was a 'drop your toothbrush in the toilet' bad day."

"It's almost like a shrine in here."

"It's always the horn section."

"It's because of the early harvest." (the earlier Canadian Thanksgiving)

"It's carbolicious!" (said of Explod-O-Pop®) / references: 7/02/04 [2200]

"It's contaminated with flavor! (said of Explod-O-Pop®) / reference: 8/06/04 [2220]

"It's funny... I hate the itching, but I don't mind the swelling."

"It's important, in show business, to tell the pinheads from the weasels."

"It's impossible to shave a toupee."

"It's not Oprah 'til it's Oprah..."


"Just a second. That last joke knocked the wind out of me."

"Just blew the roof off the dump!"


"Kids, do you love the Rock n' Roll?"


"Ladies and gentlemen, I don't believe that there is a man, woman or child alive today who doesn't enjoy a lovely beverage."

"Ladies and gentlemen, once again... this is why the rest of the world hates us."

"Ladies and gentlemen, please check yourself for ticks."

"Ladies and gentlemen, Radu!"

"Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to Johnny Carwash!!"

"Ladies and gentlemen, the best toupee money can buy."

"Ladies and gentlemen..."

"Ladies and gentlemen... Marv Albert..."

"leggy supermodel"

"Let's don't let this unpleasantness dampen our spirits, shall we?"

"Let's get right to it, shall we?"

"Let's open up the ol' CBS Mailbag."

"Let me be the first to wish you and yours a... " [Insert holiday wish phrase here.]

"Let me just pause here, while you phone the neighbors."

"letter numero cinco"

"Linda" (pronounced Leen-da)

"Look, Paul, it's the Bay of Fundy!"


"Michael Jackson, or as I like to call him... Jacko!!!"

"Midnight, and the kitties are sleeping." / references:
   • Memory (from Cats)
   • 4/23/08 [2908]: Dave sings his "Midnight, and the Kitties Are Sleeping" song.

"more fun than humans should be allowed to have"

"must... kill... Morty!"

"Muy, muy caliente."

"My advice: Don't overdo it."

"My advice on not overcooking food on the grill: watch it carefully!"

"My half sister, my long-lost brother, Paul Shaffer!"

"My name is ______", and I'm not wearing pants!" (bullhorn-out-the-window routine)

"My oh my, we're havin' some fun now!"


"[name] is an excellent rapper."

"Next time bring your sister, you hump!" (attributed to Rupert Jee)

"Nicely packed, bag boy!" (elderly lady, catch phrase contest entry, 6/20/90)

"Now, are you gonna do The Watusi, or not?"

"Now, you know it's comedy, when you hear the magic sound..."

"Now it's time for tonight's Lucky Number from the Lucky Number Girl!"

"Now what? Is s/he steamed?"


"Oh, Eleanor, guess who passed another stone!" (unsuccessful catch phrase contest entry)

"Oh, Hal..."

"Oh, look, that one landed in Trenton."

"Oh, no! The show's not over. I've got to go find Dave!" (Paul)

"Oh, no! We're gonna get sued."

"Okay, now I know this could be trouble."

"on the FOX *heh*, uh, FOX *heh heh*, uh, FOX net--*heh heh heh*, uh, network..."

"Once again, Paul, you have crystallized my thoughts eloquently."

"One more outburst, and I'll clear this auditorium."

"opening in select cities... I pray to God your city has been selected." (re a new motion picture)

"or, as they say in Indiana, spayshul"

"or, as they say in Indiana, suhtistics"

"Our long national nightmare is finally over."

"our producer, Morty, Bob, Robert, Morty, Bob Morton"


"Pack your bags, Betty. We're leavin'. " (4/09/14)

"Paul Shaffer and the Paul Shaffer Musical Wonderboys Orchestra"

"Paul Shaffer and Your Merry Musical Melodymakers"

"Paul, are you listening to any of this?"

"Paul, do we have music for this?"

"Paul, is the thing open?" (Top Ten montage)

"Paul, remember back when we used to laugh at the FOX network? Boy, those were the days!"

"Paul, when do they film that Saturday Night Live?"

"Phew! Last night we had a bunch of zombies in the audience. What a bunch!"

"pinhead executives" (NBC / GE)

"Please now, ladies and gentlemen, if you can find it in your hearts to do me a favor, say hello to my good friend, my half sister, my stepfather... Mr. Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra."

"Punks like you are a dime a dozen." (Dave's Broderick Crawford in Highway Patrol impression)

"Put down the remote control!!"



"Racing legend, Hal 'Ernie' Gurnee... Hal Grunman... Hal Grunny... Hal Grunwald..."

"Roll it, Hal."


"Say hello to my half-sister, my fourth-grade teacher, my good buddy, Radu!"

"See you later, suckers! Ah, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!" (Larry "Bud" Melman)

"Set yourselves on fire."

"show business weasels"

"Sir, have you seen a licensed physician about that?"

"sitting there applauding, as though actually entertained."

"So long until tomorrow, when we'll saddle up the ponies and ride like the wind."/ references:
   • 10/30/00 [1499] (audio)
   • 10/31/00 [1500]
   • 11/01/00 [1501]
   • 11/02/00 [1502]
   • 11/06/00 [1504]
   • 11/08/00 [1505]
   • 11/09/00 [1506]
   • 11/20/00 [1513]

"Some guests sit in the chair and think it's a great time to take a nap."

"Something from the meat case, Linda?"

"Stay tuned for Tom Snyder."


"Ted Kennedy's pants..."

"Tell me kids, do you like the rock 'n' roll?"

"Thank you very much. My nine-year-old son wrote that joke."

"Thanks for watching.                  is next."

"That guy could make his own gravy."

"That is one cranky Rottweiler." (catch phrase contest entry)

"That Judge Ito... What's he callin' himself these days? Lance?"

"That kind of behavior sickens me..."

"That Oprah, she's got all the money."

"That's one sweet ride!" (a model of car)

"the Eighth Wonder of the World... the Giant Flying Rat!"

"The girls will be here in a minute."

"the glittering jewel in the crown of commercial television..."

"the great Paul Shaffer and the Paul Shaffer Musical Wonderboys Orchestra, America's mighty, mighty party and show band"

"The heat index is when it's noon and you're standing on Broadway, wrapped in an electric blanket with the setting on high."

"The hookers in Times Square, God bless them..."

"The kids love me."

"The lovely, the talented..."

"The next time we see you folks, it will be Monday night, August 30th, at 11:30. Have a good night. Thank you. Goodbye."

"The theater is kept cold to preserve the humor's freshness."

"Them bats is smart. They use radar!"

"Them boys is tasty!"

"There are thousands of delis in New York City, and Hello Deli is one of them."

"There goes that old fat horse again."

"There he is! Get him!"

"There is no off position on the genius switch."

"There isn't a man, woman or child alive today who doesn't enjoy a lovely beverage."

"There's not a man, woman or child alive today who doesn't enjoy hijinks."

"They don't give these shows to chimps."

"They pelted us with rocks and garbage." (new catch phrase contest, 7/24/84) (video)

"They were gooned on Nyquil®."

"This is one of the best rehearsals we've ever had."

"This is only an exhibition. It is not a competition. Please... no wagering."

"This is the best damn audience we've had all year." (said during the first new episode after January 1)

"This is the best rehearsal we've ever had."

"This is the most fun I've had at rehearsal. Holy crap!"

"This is the only thing on CBS right now."

"This is tonight's lawsuit, right here."

"This is what happens when you hire a pair of dopes to run a TV show."

"This is why the rest of the world hates us."

"This show's so good, it ought to be televised."

"to keep the comedy fresh" (the reason for the near-freezing temperature in the Ed Sullivan Theater)

"Tonight's show is so good, it's hard to believe it's ours!"

"Two words: _____   ______"


"Uhh...Would you like a stick of gum!"

"Uma, Oprah. Oprah, Uma."



"w w colon slash w dot w w w dot com Dave w w dot slash..."

"Wake the kids and phone the neighbors!"

"Wake the neighbors and phone the kids!"

"We can kick your city's ass!" (NYC slogan winner)

"We here in Finland love it when Dave does this..." (puts his hands on hips)

"We will be off the air on Saturday and Sunday, due to NBC's continuing coverage of the Olympics."

"We're in Cartoon Land..."

"We're the only thing on CBS right now."

"We've been ordered off the air. Good night!"

"We've got your balloons, punk!"

"We've run out of time because I was making out with one of my guests." (Julia Roberts)

"Well, you can go sit in the lobby for an hour."

"Werry, werry niiice."

"What about that guy!"

"What did you have for lunch today?"

"What do I do for a living? I put on make-up and talk to actresses."

"What do you want? Wicker?"

"What is wrong with you?"

"What time does the show start tonight, Paul?"

"What time is it? Are you cookin' beans? Is Zorro on?"

"What's Hal wearing today?"

"Wheeww boy.... that audience last night..."

"Whenever I enjoy a lovely beverage, that would be an excellent time for all of you at home to enjoy a lovely beverage. (No, Paul, I said the people at home.)"

"When will my head stop throbbing? Can't anyone stop this throbbing?" (new catch phrase contest entry)

"Who among us hasn't...?"

"Who's frying bacon?"

"Who do you think you are, Bjorn Nitmo?" (new catch phrase contest, 1/11/90)

"Who gives a rat's ass?!" (Pete Fatovich)

"Who the hell are you, anyway, the mambo pope??"

"Whoa. It's that creepy eye!"

"Why two guest chairs? Siskel and Ebert."

Will It Float? entries:

  1. "America's fastest-growing quiz sensation..."
  2. the Will It Float? home game: everything in one box, so you and your family
    can have just as much fun at home as we do here in the Ed Sullivan Theater..."
  3. ...for people will unusually-shaped feet...
  4. "We'll see you at the big Will It Float party, after the show."

"Will you be enjoying a lovely assortment of grilled meats this holiday?"




"You babies!"

"You be Skunk. I'll be Gator. / references:
   • 12/10/96 [710]: "Why They Won't Be on the Show" (with Dave and Paul as Skunk and Gator)    • 12/12/96 [712]: Dave is Gator. Paul is Skunk.

"You kids get out of my yard!" (Mean Old Man impression)

"You know him best as Spanky on the Little Rascals..."

"You know him, you love him, you can't live without him..."

"You know kids, we have a blockbuster of a program set up for you tonight."

"You know our President, uh Bubba, Puffy, Tubby, Big Boy..."

"You know, ladies and gentlemen... you'll come for the entertainment, but you'll stay for the canned-ham giveaway."

"You know, many of these remarks are not true." (monologue, 2/08/13)

"You know, our program is like infotainment, but without the info, or the tainment, frankly."

"You know, this is the best rehearsal we have ever had."

"You look just like a kid!"

"You look like a million damn dollars!"

"You'll come for the ham. You'll stay for the band."

"You're making us all sick."

"Your parents must be very proud of you." (after a Stupid Human Trick)


Fun with Alphabetizing

Right or wrong, the pattern above is 1) spaces before all else and 2) apostrophes before letters.


Dave's catch phrases have been compiled over many years by my alt.fan.letterman pals and me. If you'd like to add one, please e-mail it. Expect a prompt, friendly reply, and $0. Later, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness, or whatever the Dalai Lama promised Carl Spackler.

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