Obama was the first guest on Letterman's new Netflix series My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, in which he discussed a lot about his post-presidency and his "dad moves".
Obama will be the first guest on "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman", set to begin Friday, Netflix announced last week. Guests scheduled for the rest of Letterman's shows include George Clooney, Malala Yousafzai, Jay-Z, Tina Fey and Howard Stern. Letterman, who retired so elegantly in 2015, seems only half-engaged here and far too much in the thrall of his first guest, who left office a year ago and has avoided the talk-show circuit until now.
It was a brief mention, but of course, it turned a few heads after the episode became available to stream on January 12, with notable names like Mark Critch tweeting about it. Both options are clearly jabs at President Trump and Obama answered without mentioning the current president's name. Both Obama and Letterman make occasional reference to the country's current fraught political climate, but neither mentions the current president directly.
It's when Obama breaks his own oratorical spell-when he talks more like an entertainer than a President-that the interview becomes engaging, surprising, and amusing.
At the word "planet", the audience laughed, but Obama continued his thought.
Letterman's level of engagement with his guests became a variable thing in his later years, when his attention could drift after the monologue.
Just three short years ago, Late Show was getting whipped in the headwinds of younger competition, Dave was increasingly exhausted and grouchy and visibly bored, and after a television hosting career that lasted longer than most of our lifetimes, he was canned by the network.
But it's Letterman's interest in Lewis and his admiration for Obama that give you a glimmer of why he wanted to do this Netflix show.
This is a recurring issue with the hour-long episode, which lurches from topic to topic without really getting deep into any of them.
"To hear you describe this in a way I can understand", he said to Obama, "makes me so happy that you're still the President".
"And she says, 'Yeah, you look like a guy who really knows how to party, '" Letterman said.
"That's a pretty good line", Obama said. In fact, despite covering subjects like race and social media and fake news, he's never even asked about Trump. But there are few direct references to Donald Trump, instead just a description of how we got him: Americans "are operating in completely different information universes". And they would just go, and they were communicating entirely through social media and we essentially built what ended up being the most effective political campaign probably in modern political history. "So, if you called collect, you weren't sure if she was going to accept!"