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No joke: David Letterman honoured with Mark Twain Prize

No joke: David Letterman honoured with Mark Twain Prize
From CBC - October 23, 2017

David Letterman was celebrated at the Kennedy Center Sunday night for his record run on late-night TV, innovative comedy routines and for helping the nation start to heal by reassuring that it was OK to laugh again after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Fellow entertainers gathered to honour Letterman where he was receiving the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

Among those in attendance were previous Mark Twain recipients Steve Martin and Bill Murray, and late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, who recalled a monologue Letterman gave on his show shortly after 9/11.

"You let us know it was OK to move on and OK to laugh again," Kimmel said.

'Dave, you led the way for all of us.' - Jimmy Kimmel

"Dave, you led the way for all of us."

Kimmel jokingly blamed the election of U.S. President Donald Trump on Letterman's retirement in 2015.

"It's like you went out for cigarettes one day and left us in the hands of our abusive, orange stepfather," Kimmel said.

Speakers included comedians John Mulaney, Amy Schumer and Jimmie Walker of the 1970s television series Good Times.Walker gave Letterman one of his first jobs as a joke writer in Hollywood.

Schumer poked fun at Letterman's famed reputation for grumpiness, saying she performed on his show three times.

"By the end of my third appearance, Dave was no longer totally indifferent to me," she said.

Mulaney credited Letterman's appeal with his determination to mine humour from ordinary people, and occasionally their pets.

"The Johnny Carson show said, 'Take a break from your weird life and watch these famous people have fun in show business,'"Mulaney said.

"Dave's show said, `Your weird life is just as funny as show business."'

The 70-year-old Letterman spent 33 years on late-night TV, hosting long-running shows on NBC and then on CBS. His final broadcast on May 20, 2015, was episode No. 6028 that Letterman hosted. It shattered the record of his mentor, Carson.

On Sunday, comedians Steve Martin and Martin Short honoured him by needling him about his bushy, white beard.

"Dave has always had excellent instincts. What better time that now to choose to look like a Confederate war general," Steve Martin said.

@JudyKurtz

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