Contact Us

That Time Elvis Costello Filled in for David Letterman

Subscribe to 103.7 The Hawk on

On March 12, 2003, Elvis Costello took on the role of talk show host for the first time when he filled in for David Letterman for the evening.

Costello had been a regular guest on Letterman’s Late Show over the years, but for this appearance, he not only acted as musical guest, but also host. Letterman was recovering from an eye infection, and the entire week was stocked with big name guest hosts, including Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell.

Costello took to the gig like a fish to water, delivering a sharp monologue that included well-placed jabs at himself. He began by saying what a thrill it was to host Saturday Night Live before being informed by Letterman band leader Paul Shaffer that it was, in fact, Late Show and not SNL. Costello replied, ‘Well that’s an even bigger thrill … I hate Saturday Night Live!” — a joking reference to Costello’s December 1977 appearance on that program, during which he angered network officials by playing a different song than the one they had approved.

During his Letterman gig, Costello promised the audience that the show would be “really, really average.” His guests for the evening were actress Kim Cattrall, Eddie Izzard and comedian Mitch Hedberg. The musical guest was, naturally, Elvis Costello and the Imposters. Early in the monologue he joked about the differences between the U.S. and the U.K., then, to somewhat uncomfortable audience response, noted that It’s “surprising how easy it is for a foreigner to get into your country.” Mind you, this was only a year and a half after 9/11.

Talking of his history with Letterman, Costello then sings a song titled “Letterman” — sung to the tune of his classic “Allison” — that jokes about him wanting his own late-night show. A joke it may have been, but hosting the Late Show ultimately led to Costello hosting his own music-themed program, Spectacle, on the Sundance Channel from 2008 to 2010.

See Elvis Costello and Other Rockers in the Top 100 Albums of the ’70s

Best of 103.7 The Hawk

Recommended For You

Best of the Web

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing VIP profile. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to using your original account information.

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

(Forgot your password?)

Not a member? Sign up here

Sign up for Rockaholics quickly by connecting your Facebook account. It's just as secure and no password to remember!

Sign up to have exclusive Rockaholics contests, events, coupons, presales, and much more delivered to you for FREE.