David Letterman Disses Singles

David Letterman Disses Singles


It was supposed to be funny, but when people continue to reinforce stereotypes and invent even worse ones, how the world views singles will never change.

Top 10 list Why You Are Single
David Letterman tells viewers the news that there are now more single
Americans than married before launching into a Top 10 list
that insults more than half of the U.S. population.

On September 10, 2014, David Letterman’s Top 10 list was called, “Top Ten Reasons Why You’re Still Single.” Take a look at the singles-relevant list below and see what you think. Then I’ll tell you what I think.

David Letterman’s “Top Ten Reasons Why You’re Still Single”

10. It is impossible to tell where you end and the couch begins.
9. Few ladies live near your makeshift forest home.
8. Who wants to be ‘Mrs. DiCaprio’ anyway?
7. Too busy writing Top Ten jokes
6. You buy your clothes at a deli
5. Mom says no dating until you’re forty
4. At the barbershop, you say, “Give me the ‘Ken Burns'”
3. OkCupid redirects you to NotOkCupid
2. “Bald with moustache” is a tough look for women to pull off
1. Too busy running ISIS

So what do you think?

I’m not a regular viewer of Letterman; I hardly ever watch him. Ages ago, I used to have every new Top 10 list emailed me to me, but that did not last for long. So I cannot claim to be totally familiar with the typical Letterman Top 10 these days. Still, how much do you have to know to have an opinion of this list?

I’d like to think of myself as a person with a sense of humor. I know that a list like this about why people are still single is going to include lame jokes about single people. But I think this list goes beyond that.

The last reason, the No.1 reason why David Letterman thinks you are still single, left me gasping. I have been collecting and analyzing derogating things people say about singles for a very long time; I’ve even done a systematic series of scientific studies on the matter. I think I’m quite familiar with the nastiest examples of singlism. But is there anything crueler, more vicious, or less justifiable than equating single people with the most brutal international terrorist — someone who literally slices people’s heads off?

How can that qualify as humor? Has any other Top 10 list ever vilified another person or group in such a stunning and heartless way as to equate them with the world’s most heinous terrorist?

The other reasons on the list are bad, too (except for the self-deprecating one about being too busy writing Top 10 jokes). But they are what I expected — mostly the standard stereotypes of single people. I think these are telling, too, in the sense that it is apparently okay to joke about single people in ways that would not be okay with regard to other stigmatized groups, about which there has been more consciousness-raising. For example, I bet David Letterman has not told any Top 10 jokes about African-Americans being watermelon-lovers. Everyone knows those kinds of caricatures are offensive. Look what happened to Donald Sterling and others who have made similarly offensive statements. With single people, though, it is open season.

As an antidote to the egregious nastiness of the Letterman Top 10 and all of the other singlism out there, I’ve just put together a collection of 65 of my most empowering writings about single life, The Best of Single Life. Many of the articles first appeared in my Living Single blog.


The Best of Single Life is available in paperback here and here, and as an ebook here. The book includes 8 sections:

  1. Why Singles Are Thriving – Despite All You’ve Heard to the Contrary
  2. Single Life: We Chose It
  3. Mocking Those ‘Why Are You Single’ Lists
  4. The Good Life and the Successful Life
  5. Savoring Our Solitude: Choosing to Spend Time Alone
  6. Valuing Our Relationships: Choosing to Spend Time with Others
  7. Sex and the Single Person: Have It Your Way – or Just Skip It
  8. Are We Missing Out by Being Single – or Are They?


This article was originally posted in Bella DePaulo’s blog, Living Single.

Bella DePauloSingularCity member Bella DePaulo (Ph.D., Harvard, 1979) is a single lifestyle expert and the author of several books, including “Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After” and “How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century.” DePaulo has discussed singles and single life on radio and television, including NPR and CNN, and her work has been noted in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, USA TodayTime, Atlantic, Business Week and Newsweek. Visit her website at www.BellaDePaulo.com.
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One thought on “David Letterman Disses Singles

  1. I hear what you are saying in this article. And while, as a single person myself, this list doesn’t bother me at all, I do understand that people shouldn’t be joking about people in the cruel way.
    I’m all for sense of humor, and sometimes I think people take life too seriously. I, however, think sometimes people don’t know when to think before they speak. There are people who makes racial comments or jokes that are hurtful about being an African American or single, or gay, or being in an interracial relationships, or a person with special needs like being in a wheel chair are the ignorant ones. While the list doesn’t bother me, it does not mean that I agree with him or laugh about it. I feel that a joke is a joke, but if it’s aimed at a person or persons and they feel it is not funny or they are not laughing at it, then it is not funny. And David should know that these jokes are not funny. I also feel that people do not consider other people’s feelings as a person. Because I would not want to picture myself telling jokes about them and don’t bother to consider their feelings. It hurts. So I’m glad you wrote about this article.

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