David Letterman on career, comedy and Carson

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CBS News

Posted on December 20, 2012 at 2:22 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 20 at 2:24 PM

NEW YORK -- Earlier this month, late-night TV host David Letterman was honored by the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. for his impactful contribution to American culture. Letterman, a comedian who got his start in radio, has hosted “Late Show with David Letterman” for nearly two decades after an 11-year run on NBC’s “Late Night with David Letterman.”

The fiercely private Letterman spoke with Charlie Rose about his early days in late-night television, his struggles with depression and anxiety, and his regrets when it comes to his family life.

Letterman told Rose that these days, he feels less pressure about the necessity of getting a laugh, saying, “I always felt like I was the central nervous system of the show...I don’t feel that need now.”

He spoke frankly about dealing with gripping anxiety and depression, which hit him after a battle with shingles. He said his decision to abruptly stop taking the shingles medication “created in me this nervous anxiety, and then I was really screwed.”

“It’s different that feeling sad. It’s different than feeling blue...it’s the world with 20/20 vision,” he said of his depression.

Letterman also touched on his experience with fatherhood, allowing that he should have had child earlier but he was “so gosh darn single-minded” about his work. “When your focus is that tight,” he explained, “You miss a lot of what’s going on around you...I just thought...’I can’t do both’...I was wrong about that.”

He added, “I have a little boy now, I wish I had a little girl [too].”

For more from Letterman’s conversation with Rose—including his fight back from quintuple bypass surgery and his emotional reflection on late-night comedy great, Johnny Carson—watch the video above.

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