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My Next Guest with David Letterman: Meeting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy 300 feet below ground level

The 44-minute special focuses on the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia, Zelenskyy’s continuous struggle to uphold democracy, the need for support from allies not only to win the war, but also to rebuild the country, among others.

My Next Guest with David Letterman: Meeting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy 300 feet below ground level
David Letterman greets Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ahead of their chat

Last Updated: 02.06 PM, Dec 13, 2022


Story: David Letterman heads to Ukraine to meet its President, former comic and actor Volodymyr Zelenskyy for a special episode of his Netflix show, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.

Review: Former late night show host David Letterman is, no doubt, a big fan of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Letterman did something he’s never done before to meet Zelenskyy, flying to Poland, taking a van ride to the Ukraine border and finally a 17-hour train journey to get to the capital Kyiv.


The setting for the big interview is far from what Letterman is accustomed to; it’s got to be a safe place, so a studio won’t suffice. So, where do they go instead? Well, not a bomb shelter, but something close enough – a functional subway platform nearly 300 feet below ground level, considered the safest place to conduct the interview.

Zelenskyy does speak a smattering of English, but he is not conversational enough to have this interview with Letterman, so, both men have to rely on translations of what each of them says. Based on the subtitles to Zelenskyy’s responses, it seems that the Ukrainian president’s translation team has done a fantastic job in relaying what Letterman was driving at.

Letterman’s admiration for the man, who’s gone from standup comic and actor to leading the nation through one of its worst crises, is palpable. The show host admits that seeing Zelenskyy defend Ukraine against Russia, telling his people and the world at the start of the war that it may be the last time they seem him alive, is why he wanted to meet the president and undertook the long journey to Kyiv. Ten months on, war has, unfortunately, become a habit for Ukraine, points out Zelenskyy.

As they settle in for their conversation, even as trains rumble past occasionally, a siren wails, prompting Letterman to wonder if they were okay to continue. It helps that he is reassured by the President that they are going to be okay, even though the country is still war-ravaged. Letterman then gets Zelenskyy to talk about the fight for democracy, Ukraine’s motto that life must go on no matter what, as the people rebuild everything lost in the war, especially lifelines like the railways, the urgent need for support from allies. In doing so, though, the special comes across as a mouthpiece for Zelenskyy. But then, what else can one expect in a scenario like this, when the show host has open admiration for the subject of this interview, no tough questions are going to be asked.

Verdict: David Letterman’s chat with the Ukrainian President is not a must watch for its content, but more so for the fact that he actually undertook what could be a perilous trip to meet the man. Does it present anything new from what is already in the public discourse? No, but then, it’s not even an hour long; it will be over before you know it.


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