Dennis Miller's ratings have not varied more than a few tenths of a point since his late-night talk show debuted in January. But emotionally, the 38-year-old host has been on a wild roller coaster.
"When you first go on the air, everybody watches--like when you're in traffic on the freeway and everybody stops because they want to see if it's a bad wreck," he said. "But eventually they put their foot on the accelerator. And then there's that period where you worry--are you in a free fall? You wonder where this bottoms out.
"Then suddenly it stops, and it's like you're that bus teetering on the edge of a cliff in a rainstorm. And you wonder, 'Are we going to fall, or is Superman going to book the show and provide some promotional push?' "
Miller said that the pressure on him the first few weeks of the show was tough:
"Doing a talk show scares the hell out of you the first day. The reviews read that 'Miller appears nervous'--it was like, you're . . . right! I was borderline incontinent. It's an amazing thing--people think you're going to walk out there and be cool.
"Now I don't get that pit-in-the-stomach thing before the show. I feel good. I mean, I haven't stiffed it."