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The Top 10 times Destructo David Letterman broke stuff on TV

Wednesday marks the end of a late-night era as Dave retires after 33 years on air. Given how he harnessed the force of physics to bust things, we honor the king of Top 10 lists with 10 of his best disasters.

"Late Night" and "Late Show" host David Letterman will retire Wednesday, ending a 33-year run of laughter, late night television and launching produce from the top of tall buildings.
"Late Night" and "Late Show" host David Letterman will retire Wednesday, ending a 33-year run of laughter, late-night television and launching produce from the top of tall buildings. CBS/Worldwide Pants

I hesitate to use the word "groundbreaking" to describe late-night host David Letterman, because that's a pun and such a thing would never make it past Dave's high-caliber writing room. However, it's hard to think of a better or more accurate word to describe the mark he left on television, comedy and the pavement outside the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City.

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Dave's "Late Night" and "Late Show" brought the late-night TV concept to a whole new generation of viewers and comedy nerds, moving it away from the stuffy air of a Las Vegas 1960s nightclub and closer to a raucous party hosted by a smart-ass geek (disclosure: the "Late Show" aired on CBS, CNET's parent company). Sure, Dave had a razor-sharp wit and an interview style that sometimes bordered on hilariously hostile, but he also had a flair for the kind of fun that only a kid from a small Midwest town could understand: breaking stuff.

Letterman was the first comedian in the history of the medium to harness the power of physics like a comedy missile headed straight for a smirking lawn gnome. He used gravity to destroy lawn ornaments, inertia to break windows and even Newton's First Law of Motion to decimate a ping-pong table. I can't think of a better way to send Letterman off to the late-night hosts' retirement home than with a collection of the Top 10 times (in no particular order) he broke stuff for our viewing pleasure.

1. The steamroller



2. The 80-ton hydraulic press



3. The five-story tower



4. Bob Borden's bowling ball demo



5. The bowling ball and the bathtub of pudding



6. The 3,000-pound block



7. Hallway bowling



8. Tennis balls and Serena Williams



9. The cupcake car and the Christmas tree



10. The meatball on the Christmas tree