Kenny Sheehan is the stagehand who was featured regularly on the Late Show with David Letterman reading out-of-context transcripts from The Oprah Winfrey Show. Sheehan died on November 20 after a battle with cancer. Sheehan would usually appear in segments with fellow stagehand Pat Farmer.
Sheehan’s death was confirmed in a post on the Facebook page for St. Philips Church in New Hope, Pennsylvania. According to the post, Sheehan regularly attended services at the church. One section of the tribute reads, “He lived his life with a strong faith and courage.” It adds, “[Sheehan] brought joy to many on the crew of the Late Show with David Letterman.” The tribute offered prayers for Sheehan’s wife and family. The church’s post describes Sheehan’s cancer battle as being “short.”
Sheehan Worked as a Stagehand on the ‘Late Show with David Letterman’ Between 1994 & 2012
Sheehan’s LinkedIn page lists him as being a member of the Sheet Metal Workers Union Local 28 in New York between January 1978 and January 1994. In 1994, Sheehan began working on the Late Show with David Letterman. Sheehan remained with the show until March 2012. During that time, Sheehan’s page says that he worked for the Nederlander Producing Company working in the electric department.
According to Sheehan’s Facebook page, he was from Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and attended Long Island City High School in Queens, New York. In a Facebook tribute, one of Sheehan’s friends wrote, “I thought he’d outlive everyone like Keith Richards.”
In Addition to His Work With David Letterman, Sheehan Worked on the Movies Wedding Crashers & Red Dragon
According to Sheehan’s IMDb page, he worked as a stage dresser on the 2005 megahit comedy Wedding Crashers as well as on the 2003 Chris Rock movie Head of State. Sheehan is listed as being the key costumer on the movie Red Dragon, which was part of the Hannibal Lector series of films.
Sheehan appeared in a 1997 episode of the Michael J. Fox sitcom Spin City. His character was named Kenny the Janitor.
Sheehan also appeared in a 2000 episode of the David Letterman produced comedy-drama show Ed. On the show, the main character, named Ed, formerly worked for a law firm named Farmer & Sheehan, a reference to Pat Farmer and Kenny Sheehan.
Sheehan’s Appearances on the ‘Late Show’ Usually Saw Him ‘Smoking a Cigarette With an Unusually Long Ash’
Sheehan made his first on-screen appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman in June 1997 and would continue to make sporadic appearances until 2011, the year when Winfrey ended her daily show. Sheehan’s trivia section on his IMDb page describes him as usually appearing on the show “smoking a cigarette with an unusually long ash.”
Upon David Letterman’s retirement from his nightly show in 2015, Rolling Stone magazine named Sheehan and Pat Farmer as number seven on a list of the comedian’s best side kicks. Rolling Stone’s Tim Grierson wrote that the pair read transcripts from The Oprah Winfrey Show in a “flat, dry style, and the result was a recurring bit that somehow never got old.” The piece added that Sheehan’s “ever-present cigarette, dangling just so from the corner of his mouth, only underlined how little guys like him cared about celebrity nonsense.”
The Oprah Winfrey segments were the creation of How I Met Your Mother creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, according to Late Show writer Bill Scheft. Scheft called Sheehan “half of the best refillable Late Show bit ever.”