Pop Culture

David Steinberg: Great thing about Letterman? 'You always knew when he was angry'

Comedian David Steinberg has been making people laugh about as long as David Letterman, who recently announced his upcoming retirement from "Late Show." But while Steinberg, who currently interviews other comedians on Showtime's "Inside Comedy," has nothing but admiration for Letterman, he's dubious whether retirement will stick.

"I wouldn't like to meet him four months after he's been off the air," Steinberg told TODAY's Matt Lauer Friday. "He's going to miss it. Because that's all he really knows how to do. That's all we all know how to do when you're a comedian."

Steinberg, who appeared on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson more 140 times and knows late-night TV, said Letterman has something unique to late-night personalities. "You always knew when he was angry," said Steinberg. "Most hosts don't let you know that. If he was pissed at something, you saw it on his face, he was irascible, he couldn't stand it."

Steinberg's insights as a comedian who knows how other comics operate are what has made "Inside Comedy" a success. Steinberg said during interviews he hosts, he tries to get his subjects to not perform, just talk. "I like them to be not switched on, like you have to be as a comedian, and see some of that that natural, DNA humor that they have," he said.

But today's comedians have it easier than he did coming up in the business, Steinberg said. For one thing, being a comedian is no longer seen as a downwardly mobile profession. "When I started out, I was a comedian in my 20s," he recalled. "If I dated a girl and she brought me home to her mother and said, 'He's a comedian,' the mother would say, 'Oh, this is a disaster.' ... (Today) comedians are like the new doctors."

"Inside Comedy" airs on Showtime Mondays at 11 p.m.