Print Edition - 2017-10-24 | Life & Style
Letterman receives US humour prize
Oct 24, 2017-
David Letterman, a pioneering entertainer who was the longest-running host of late-night TV in US history, was honoured on Sunday for his contributions to American culture.
After-hours television was built around the set-piece interview and guest appearance when Letterman’s “Late Night” broke the mold in 1982 with absurd pranks and send-ups.
Everyday viewers went on his show to present “stupid pet tricks.” Behind his desk, Letterman could be serious, dry and cerebral. But he often volunteered for oddball pranks. In one well-known stunt, he worked a shift at a Taco Bell in suburban New Jersey, taking pickup orders.
In another sketch, Letterman was dunked in water while covered in Alka Seltzer tablets. Receiving the Mark Twain Prize for American Humour at the Kennedy Center, the national showcase for arts, Letterman, 70, was praised for his imagination, comic daring and heart.
Many younger comedians, including current late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, have described Letterman as a major influence. Before Kimmel’s on-stage tribute to Letterman, the entertainer recalled one of his favorite, offbeat moments.
“Dave brought this doorknob out. And he put it on a table. And he said ‘It’s just plain big.’ That was it.”
Letterman hosted more than 6,000 episodes of his original Late Night with David Letterman on NBC and its successor on CBS, Late Show with David Letterman, which ended its run in May 2015. He won multiple Emmy Awards for his work as a writer, performer and producer.
On Sunday, comic friends teased Letterman about his late-night wars with Leno and retirement but the honoree struck a poignant note in his acceptance speech. “Mark Twain’s definition of patriotism is this: Patriotism is supporting your country all the time and your government when it deserves it.”
The Letterman tribute will be aired on public television stations on Nov 20.
Published: 24-10-2017 08:33