Letterman discusses Oprah feud with Jon Stewart

For anyone who’s been following the ongoingly frosty and seemingly endless feud between David Letterman and Oprah Winfrey, last night’s Late Show provided new insight into their long-standing Cold War. Chatting with guest Jon Stewart, Letterman revealed that the iciness dates back much further than Letterman’s notorious (and notoriously awkward) joke while hosting the 1995 Academy Award telecast: “Oprah, Uma…Uma, Oprah”. In fact, Letterman told Stewart — and the insomniacs watching at home — that the real cause of the rift was a practical joke Letterman played on Winfrey long before he laid his Oscars egg.

Turns out that Letterman and his then-girlfriend, Regina Lasko, found themselves having lunch in the same restaurant as Oprah and Steadman while on vacation. As a gag, Letterman told the waiter that Winfrey’s table was picking up their check. Apparently, Winfrey didn’t find this as hilarious as Letterman did.

Stewart, who was Letterman’s guest, actually turned the tables on the Late Show host, getting the ever-secretive Letterman to reveal more about himself than the person sitting in his hot seat — the sign of a great late-night talk show couch sitter.

“In the beginning Oprah frightened me,” said Letterman. When asked why, he replied, “because she could squash me like a bug. She could put me out of the business. And she hated me, that’s what it was.”

Check out the clip from last night’s show to see more about “The Incident” and why Letterman, in all of his wonderfully creepy insecurities, remains must-watch TV.

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  • Art

    I never got the Oprah Uma, Uma Oprah thing. Is there some hidden meaning I’ve missed, or was it just supposed to be that they have “funny” names.

    • ShotgunShogun

      You nailed it on the head. They just have “funny” names.

      • Eric

        That’s just Dave’s schtik.

      • Mimi

        I remember that joke from seeing it on tv live. I easily understood it then & found it perfectly funny. I even appreciated that he was personalizing it to people in the audience, which is warming. If you were introducing Oprah to Uma and vice versa that’s how it would sound. It’s funny. How can anyone not get it? It’s so simple. That’s Letterman’s humor. You either like Letterman’s humor & appreciate it or don’t. But his fame is not based on people not getting his sense of humor. Millions very much do ‘get’ his humor. His is a niche humor. (Someone w/the username dj posted on here that it’s from a monologue someone else did in the past, but I understood the humor years ago before reading dj’s comment. Like I said, it seemed simple to me.)

    • dj

      Actually the “Oprah, Uma” thing comes from an old monologue performed by Anne Bancroft entitled “Yma Dream”. In the monologue she is telling a psychiatrist about a dream she had in which she gives a dinner party for Brazilian singer Yma Sumac. As the guests come in she has to introduce them all to each other but all the guests are people like Uta Hagen, Ava Gardner, Ida Lupino and so on. Until after sputtering through tons of introductions saying “Yma, uta, Yma Ava, Yma Ida, Ida Uta, Uta Ava”, the final three guests show up and they are Onna White, Mata Hari and Pia Zadora. The punch line is of course “Yma, Onna Mata Pia”. I think it can be found on Youtube and it is pretty funny.

      • Melanie

        Thanks for that explanation – I had never heard of that monologue before…the Uma-Oprah thing is a little more amusing now!

      • Mimi

        dj: By the way, thanks for letting us read that bit of funniness, which I’m sure most people, like me, hadn’t heard, seen, or read before. It makes me think of the famous Abbot & Costello bit called “Who’s on first.” I wonder if that’s on Youtube. Anyone who hasn’t seen it should check it out if it’s on there because it’s a classic (& probably Abbot & Costello’s most famous piece of humor)! I’ll bet it appears on Youtube just from doing a search there for Who’s on first. :)

  • fluffy

    A-HA! Now we know the whole truth.

  • nodnarb

    Good grief, people really do believe everything they see on television. The Oprah/Letterman feud is part of their shtick. It ain’t real.

  • Allen Yale

    Why does Letterman always have to run across the back of the stage so he can enter from the right and then walk back to the left again pointing to his watch to someone in the left wing? It is not as if the show is live and he is always late for his entrance. A strange way to get your blood flowing. Then he talks to Paul Shaffer. I find the show’s format of Paul always repeating Letterman’s jokes annoying. What’s the story of these antics?

    • ries

      i think that is a stage hand or something. pretty sure it’s not him. next time check the shoes/socks.

    • Squirtle

      That’s no stage hand, that’s Dave. I’ve been to two tapings of “Late Show” and can confirm that he always runs across the stage just before his intro.

  • wakeforce

    When Oprah appeared on Letterman years ago, he practically fawned over her, and don’t forget the famous Super Bowl commercial. This is a non-story. There is no feud!

    • Djwill

      This a non story. This has been out for years I dont see why its big news.

  • Hypnogal

    Sorry for being off topic, but I want to know if anyone else has been experience trouble with the comments not loading on the more active recap sites (like DWTS, Mad Men, etc)? It says “Loading Comments”, but then they never come up.

    • Fizzy

      Its something to do with your firewall or settings. I can’t access recap comments either, never could.

    • Flyer

      When that happens, try hitting “refresh” to reload the page.

  • sam

    The Incident sounds exactly what Lloyd and Harry pulled on SeaBass and the fellas.

    • wrongplacewrongtime

      kick his ass seabass!

      • Chase

        So the guy tricked some sucker into picking up his tab and gets away with it scott free?

  • Dr Rand Pink

    Being Oprah’s doctor and lover, I must say she’s a lovely woman who I deeply respect.

    • Carole

      And that is why you comment about her here.

  • Simm

    Instead of “then-girlfriend,” why not describe Regina Lasko as “now wife”?

    • Fizzy

      Because THEN she was his girl friend. Oy vey!

  • Lucy

    wow so many trolls

  • JJ

    Was this article written 10 yrs. ago? There’s no fued/cold war. They’ve done each other’s show and done a commerical poking fun at the non-fued.

    PS…Lucy…namecalling others as “trolls” actually makes you a troll..but you knew that already.

    • SaraJ

      DUH.. but we didn’t know that the feud had started before the Academy Awards incident. That IS new info. Please pay attention.

  • Ronald B Woods

    …the free-lunch trick is an old Jack Benny routine from the ’50’s…very funny!

  • RoeLuv

    Ongoing? Like JJ said ,they’ve squashed that beef long ago.

  • favia

    Letterman, just because Oprah didn’t do your show (or anyone else’s show) for years, does not mean there is a feud; it just means she gets enough publicity as it is. And if there was a feud, it was because of all your fat jokes, not because you refused to pay for your lunch. In fact Oprah was joking about your prank on the Johny Carson show, laughing about how much you eat.

  • jr

    as usual, not funny. stewart is far funnier than letterman will ever be. oprah, uma was retarded and if he really did get oprah to pay for his lunch, how could anyone think that was funny? he’s just not.

    • kluma

      Letterman doesn’t know the difference between being childish and being funny. He’s never really had to be funny because his mindless audience will laugh at anything.

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