David Letterman Says He Should Have Left 'Late Show' a Decade Earlier

David Letterman
Jim Spellman/WireImage

Take a look at the comedy legend's rare talk-show appearance.

Four years after retiring from the full-time talk show world, David Letterman says he wished he left earlier.

On Ellen DeGeneres' daytime show the pair discussed his departure from The Late Show with David Letterman and his new Netflix program, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman. While on hand, he explained that after a long career on TV he now looks back with some regret.

“Here’s the mistake I made, I stayed on television way too long,” he told DeGeneres and the studio audience. “And I’ll tell you what happened. It turns out nobody has the guts to fire me. And I should have left like 10 years ago.”

He admitted that his hosting duties on NBC consumed his life and prompted some soul-searching. 

“You want to make sure you have some energy to direct toward other things,” he said. “Now you, nothing but energy, are doing other things while you’re on television. I did not. All I care about was myself and then all— then the show was gone and so I had to realize, ‘Oh, I’ve been looking through the wrong end of the telescope. There’s more to life than, ‘So, tell me about your pet beaver?’” [A reference to a famous question he asked during an interview with Martha Stewart back in the day.]

Besides his far less time-consuming show on Netflix, Letterman is also working with Habitat for Humanity to help rebuild communities ravaged by natural disasters.

During the chat, he also revealed that DeGeneres will be among his guests on the second season of My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, which will premiere later this year.