TV

David Letterman honored with Mark Twain award for humor

WASHINGTON — David Letterman was never known as a particularly political comedian, preferring a detached irony-drenched tone that favored the surreal and silly over topical humor. But there was an unmistakable political tint to much of Sunday night’s ceremony to present Letterman with the Mark Twain award for American humor.

Several of the comedians honoring Letterman took shots at President Donald Trump and the general state of the country. More than one comedian quipped that the Kennedy Center’s funding was about to be cut off mid-show, notwithstanding the announcement that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was a Kennedy Center benefactor.

Jimmy Kimmel jokingly blamed Letterman for helping to bring Trump to power.

“It’s like you went out for cigarettes one day and left us in the hands of our abusive, orange stepfather,” Kimmel quipped.

 

He praised Letterman profusely, recalling a monologue he delivered on his show shortly after the 9/11 attack.

“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.”

But Kimmel also noted that in that same monologue, Letterman offered glowing praise to then-New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who went on to become a vocal public Trump supporter.

“Well Dave, we all make mistakes sometimes,” Kimmel said.

Comedian-turned-Senator Al Franken thanked Letterman for a post-retirement series of video he and Letterman recorded together designed to raise awareness on climate change. Comedians Martin Short and Steve Martin, a previous Mark Twain honoree, needled Letterman about his bushy white retirement beard with a line touching on the country’s current divisive political atmosphere.

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

Speakers Sunday night 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 humor 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.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama sent in a video tribute and Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder thanked Letterman for being a longtime “friend to music” and performed the song “Keep me in your heart” by the late Warren Zevon, a Letterman favorite.

Letterman’s run on NBC in particular was hugely influential, introducing a sardonic, smartly silly comedic style that influenced a generation.

His time slot immediately following Carson’s “The Tonight Show” allowed Letterman to draw a huge following of young, largely college-age viewers seeking an alternative to the somewhat staid Carson model.

Letterman introduced the country to fringe musical acts that might never have received an opportunity on “The Tonight Show.”

His humor was undeniably intelligent, but also at times surrealistic and goofy. He pioneered segments called Stupid Pet Tricks and Stupid Human Tricks. He tossed watermelons and other objects off a five-story building; at one point, he wore a suit made of Velcro and jumped onto a Velcro-covered wall, sticking in place. He turned bizarre characters like Larry “Bud” Melman and Biff Henderson into cult celebrities.

Letterman started his career as a radio talk show host and TV weatherman in Indiana. In the mid-1970s he moved to Los Angeles, performing stand-up comedy and writing jokes for (at the time more famous) stand-up comic Walker of “Good Times” fame. Eventually he caught the eye of “The Tonight Show” and Carson, performing several times on the show and becoming a regular guest host starting in 1978.

NBC gave Letterman his own show following Carson; “Late Night with David Letterman” debuted on Feb. 1, 1982. Letterman’s first guest that night? Bill Murray, the Twain award recipient in 2016.

On Sunday, Murray predictably stole the show with a surreal performance dressed as an Elizabethan monarch.

Murray said the perks of the Twain award elevate you above normal humans.

“You’re not exactly a god but you’re way up there,” he said. “You will be able to walk up to any man or woman on the street, take a lit cigar out of their mouth and finish it. You’ll be able to board any riverboat in this country.”

Murray then announced he was hungry and had a burger brought to him on stage. He then ordered platters of burgers delivered to Letterman’s balcony and cajoled Letterman’s son Harry to toss a pickle to the masses below.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio, MGM Resorts International’s luxury hotel turns 20
The more than 3,000-room Bellagio hotel is situated on the site of the former Dunes Hotel. The Dunes was imploded in 1993, and construction of the Bellagio started in 1996. It cost $1.6 billion to build, making it the most expensive hotel in the world at the time. The Bellagio was former Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s second major casino on the Strip after The Mirage. MGM Resorts International acquired the property from Steve Wynn in 2000. (Tara Mack/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Recycled Art and Cute Dogs at Summerlin Festival Of Arts
Recycled Art, Cute Dogs Abound At Summerlin Festival Of Arts (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Patisserie Creates Life-size Sculpture Of 20th Anniversary Of Cirque Du Soleil Show
Bellagio Patisserie Creates Life-size Sculpture Of 20th Anniversary Of Cirque Du Soleil Show (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
10 Most Iconic Moments At The Bellagio Fountains
10 Most Iconic Moments At The Bellagio Fountains (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jason Aldean talks about the possibility of a Las Vegas residency
Country superstar Jason Aldean discusses his feelings about playing in Las Vegas and says he'd be interested in a Las Vegas residency when the time is right at the iHeart Radio Music Festival in Las Vegas on September 21, 2018.(John Katsilometes/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who To Watch At Life Is Beautiful
Life Is Beautiful Setup
Workers preparing Fremont street for this weekend's Life is Beautiful festival, on Wednesday, September 19, 2018. Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The 46th annual Greek Food Festival will feed 25,000 people in Las Vegas
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Zia Records Move
Zias Records is moving from its Sahara Avenue and Arville Street location to a bigger store. (Mat Luscheck/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Video from Fertitta wedding Sep. 1
video from @wedstagrams of Fertitta wedding at Red Rock Resort
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like