Nate Bargatze & David Letterman.

Nate Bargatze Recalls Not Getting Booked On David Letterman’s “The Late Show”

Nate Bargatze really wanted to do David Letterman’s The Late Show back in his early days as a stand-up. Every comedian did, as a matter of fact. That was just the place to be. He had already done a set on Conan by the time that he was being considered, and this would’ve been the next logical step.

He didn’t make the cut. As he told an audience and Letterman himself Monday night as part of the Netflix Is A Joke Festival, he was told his act was considered too “mundane” for Letterman’s show. After viewing a clip of the routine he submitted, Letterman confirmed that it was in fact, not mundane.

Watching Nate Bargatze & David Letterman as two masters in conversation at Netflix Is A Joke Fest.

Letterman was speaking with Bargatze as part of a three-day conversation series at the festival titled Gods of Comedy. This is a rare chance to see Letterman step back into the interviewer seat, and explore every nuance of a comedian’s brain. It’s like watching two masters engaged in a ping-pong match. Bargatze was the first guest. Despite the career setback, it worked out okay for him. He did just play two nights at the Hollywood Bowl as part of an impressive lineup, after all.

During their wide-ranging discussion, they talked about what it’s like to play for a crowd of 18,000 people, golfing, how Sinbad was an early comedy influence, working clean, having to develop a dirty set for cruise ships, and a hilarious story about getting his daughter a pet. We also got to learn a bit about Letterman’s days as a stand-up, working at a club in Denver where - after a few shows that didn’t go well - he noticed that his limo was gone, leaving him to have to walk along the freeway back to the hotel.

There was a somber moment, in which Bargatze talks about touring with his dad. Fans know his dad as a magician from many of Bargatze’s routines. But he also started bringing his dad on the road with him, bringing things full circle to when his dad brought him on the road as a kid. We then saw a clip of his dad getting choked up thinking about how far Nate’s life has taken him. Bargatze told us this happens every show.

Seeing this conversation served as the perfect reminder for just what hard work and determination can get you in this industry. Even if something doesn’t work out for you, you never know what’s around the corner. Even though Bargatze never got to do a 5-minute set on Letterman’s show early on, we think getting to spend an hour talking to the man for an in-depth discussion is not a bad consolation prize.

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