Those of us old enough to remember know: David Letterman’s comedy, as well as his general attitude, historically was pretty caustic. Oprah Winfrey and Madonna were two unashamedly vocal celebrities among many with a distaste for his show, his humor, and just him. It seems that time has softened his demeanor, and he’s even made up with Oprah, but not so fast on assuming that classic wit is altogether gone.
Enter the Little Dragon – a trippy Swedish band performing on his show Wednesday night. Letterman is always kind to the bands performing on his show, and he’s certainly introduced America to a number of outstanding new acts (The Proclaimers, Arctic Monkeys, Secret Machines – the list goes on). So here he is, congratulating Little Dragon after their performance of “Klapp Klapp,” from their new album Nabuma Rubberband:
At 4:15, a cordial Letterman congratulates the band, commenting the song was “beautiful” and with “very, very heavy vertation.” If you’re wondering what ‘vertation’ is, you’re not alone. The phrase was coined by journalist Serene Branson during a live remote report, where she suffered a “migraine with aura” in 2011. The story went viral at the time, so you may recognize this clip:
An article in the LA Times, Feb 18th, 2011 describes Branson’s side to the story. “They kept asking me if I wanted to go to the hospital, and I just kept saying, ‘I want to go home.’ …”I was so out of it that I went right to sleep,” she said. Branson was unaware of the interwebs frenzy until friends alerted her the next day.
What’s notable here is that Letterman remembers the phase, 3 years later, and used it at an opportune time. (How often has ‘Boom goes the dynamite’ come to mind recently, when you’ve needed it?) It’s unlikely Letterman was mocking the band – he never does. It’s much more likely he’s changing up his phrases to avoid a repeating worn out phrases night after night. But there’s still a little wry puckishness to his game. “Vertation” isn’t a word, and it’s a little bit teasing of Ms. Branson.
Branson can take it. Still at CBS KCAL 9, check out her bio from their site (Wow!):
Serene is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and the recipient of the Frank Shakespeare Award for Outstanding Achievement in Journalism. Born and raised in the Los Angeles area and proud Bruin, Serene is thrilled to be reporting on stories in her hometown.
Serene previously worked at the CBS affiliate in Sacramento, where she had the opportunity to cover state politics and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. She was one of only a handful of media witnesses chosen to watch the execution of convicted killer Clarence Ray Allen at San Quentin State prison. Serene also landed an exclusive interview with one of the few sexually violent predators released from the Atascadero State Mental Hospital. She has covered some of California’s largest natural disasters including wildfires and floods.
Oh, and feel free to restart the Little Dragon video from the begining, if you’d like to hear their entire performance of Klapp Klapp from the show last night.