NEW JERSEY -- Paul Shaffer is widely known as the former Musical Director of both Late Night with David Letterman and The Late Show with David Letterman, during which he was often involved in skits and the general hijinx of the production. However, as Shaffer tells Steve Adubato, he wasn’t always comfortable being gregarious and, in fact, grew up being an introverted kid until a 1972 theater production forever changed his outlook.
Steven Schwartz, composer of the musical Godspell, hired Shaffer to be the Musical Director of the Toronto production, which starred many actors who later went on to become famous, such as Martin Short, Gilda Radner, Eugene Levy, Victor Garber and Andrea Martin.
“They influenced me,” Shaffer said of the notable cast, many of whom went on to become comedians and television stars. “They seemed to be having such a good time being so outgoing, and I said I want to be more like that,” he added. “I changed my whole personality because of them.”
Shaffer later went on to become part of the house band and occasional cast member of Saturday Night Live. When he was hired by the Late Night producers, he was asked if he was the type of person who could play off of Letterman, and because of his past experiences, “I was ready to go,” he said.
To watch the entire segment featuring Adubato’s complete interview with Paul Shaffer, visit: https://steveadubato.org/musical-legend-paul-shaffer-talks-about-his-iconic-career.html.