Best of 2022: Liza Lapira on That’s My Time with David Letterman

The actress, who's currently starring in The Equalizer and the holiday movie Must Love Christmas, on a favorite from the past year.

I’m a David Letterman fan – he is the gold standard. I’m a native New Yorker, so I would always pass by the Ed Sullivan Theater, where he filmed The Late Show. That’s My Time with David Letterman is the best of all worlds, because it starts with him doing a monologue, like he would on The Late Show, and then he introduces an up-and-coming or established comic for a set, then afterward they sit down to chat with him. It’s all hilarious: the stuff Dave writes, the comics’ material, and then the alchemy of the sitdown, the banter and Dave finding out about the comic. The guest comedians are very strong. Brian Simpson is a phenomenal comic who’s also a vet (he served in the Marines for five years). His humor is just so wry and raw. I also love the episodes with Phil Wang, Naomi Ekperigin and Sam Morril, who has some very witty exchanges with Dave. I binged That’s My Time, and if I want something comforting playing in the background, I’ll pull up one of those episodes.

Now that Dave is retired, I think his essence is the same, but he can curse now because he’s no longer on network TV. But the personality, the wit, the side-eye view of society and the absurd humor, it’s all the same. What I do like that’s different about this new show is that, unlike on talk shows where you have an allotted window of time, here there’s no restrictions and it’s much more enjoyable because you get to dig deeper not only into who he’s talking to, but also into the mind of Dave himself. Basically, I’m saying I want to meet Dave Letterman. This whole article is a ruse – I am just angling to have coffee with the man!

There’s something magical about him, because he’s so wry and, at this point, iconic. I would want to be asked questions by Dave, because every human just wants to be seen and understood. It’s a core need, along with eating and sleeping. There is something about Dave – and Johnny Carson, before him – where, from my point of view, it seemed like he really saw people; that’s why he would ask such pointed questions and be able to make fun of them in that way. You can’t really roast somebody or ask a funny question unless it emanates from the essence of who that person is. It’s funny because it rings true. And you can’t get to a person’s essence unless you really see them! I want to be seen by Dave. I would want him to ask me a question and from that I would ask him the same question. Like, if he asked me where I grew up, I would tell him and then say, “Well, where did you grow up? What’s your favorite memory growing up? What were your formative experiences as a kid or a young adult?” And then from there, I could just ask, ask, ask.

Liza Lapira plays Melody “Mel” Bayani in CBS’ smash hit The Equalizer and can currently be seen as Natalie in the CBS holiday movie Must Love Christmas. She was most recently seen starring opposite Daniella Pineda and Alicia Witt in the film Modern Persuasion, while her additional feature film credits include Crazy, Stupid, Love, opposite Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore and Marissa Tomei; 21, opposite Jim Sturgess and Kevin Spacey; Fast & Furious, with Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez and Gal Gadot; and Matt Reeves’ Cloverfield. Lapira’s most recent television credits include Nancy Drew and Unbelievable, opposite Toni Collette and Merritt Weaver. On stage, Lapira starred in Steve Martin’s Picasso at the Lapin Agile, at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, opposite Justin Long and Hal Linden. (Photo by Lindsay Siu / CBS.)