David Letterman was celebrated at the Kennedy Center on Sunday night in Washington, DC, 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 honor 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, the AP reports. "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."
Kimmel jokingly blamed the election of President 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. Martin 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," Martin quipped. (Letterman is returning to TV.)