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Fey, Baldwin, Kimmel, Romano toast Letterman at 'Kennedy Center Honors'

WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 2: (AFP OUT) Comedian David

WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 2: (AFP OUT) Comedian David Letterman (L) and actor Dustin Hoffman attend the Kennedy Center Honors reception at the White House on December 2, 2012 in Washington, DC. The Kennedy Center Honors recognized seven individuals - Buddy Guy, Dustin Hoffman, David Letterman, Natalia Makarova, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant - for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images) (Credit: Getty Brendan Hoffman)

David Letterman (above left; the honoree who looks like he's about to get root canal, or perhaps Dustin is just giving him the death stare and that would freak anyone out) received his richly deserved career achievement award Sunday night at the Kennedy Center Honors — for a telecast to air Dec. 26 — and to celebrate the moment, these tributes from . . .

Tina Fey: " . . .[of his great early "Late Night" run] . . . Was this Dave Letterman guy a brilliant, subtle, passive-aggressive parody of a talk show host? Or just a Midwestern goon who was a little bit “off?” Well, here we are, 32 years later, and time has proven . . . that there’s really no way of knowing.”

 " . . . David Letterman is the professor emeritus at the ‘Here’s Some More Rope’ Institute. Weirdly or not weirdly, Mr. Letterman is the closest thing we have to a present-day Walter Cronkite. His honesty and intelligence have shepherded us through national crises. Our concern for his health has been a national worry. Our imaginary friendship with him has been going on now for 32 years. Tonight, we declare it officially: my mom was right, David Letterman is an American treasure, like the Grand Canyon, or the Chicago skyline, or the top two Kardashians.”

Alec Baldwin: " . . . Dave, who can barely stand traveling from his home to the studio, will have to travel all the way from New York City to Washington, D.C. — a journey of over 200 miles in a private jet! Have him sit in a box and watch artists perform for two full hours! Put him in a big room full of people he doesn’t know. Don’t let him say anything! Make him wear a tux! With plain old black socks!”

Jimmy Kimmel: " . . . I wanted to be David Letterman. All my friends wanted to be David Letterman. Ironically, the only person who didn’t want to be David Letterman — is David Letterman. And that’s a shame because you, Dave, are the funniest, the smartest, the weirdest, the coolest, the best one ever. Not only did I learn how to do . . . everything from Dave — the reason I have a show of my own is because the executives at ABC saw me when I was a guest on his show.”

Ray Romano: " . . .…I sometimes wonder where I would be if I hadn’t been on David Letterman’s show. I would still be doing stand-up, because it’s what I love. I’m sure I’d be on the road working. Every now and then I’d have to do Kimmel. It would be okay, I guess. But I know one thing; I’d still be trying to get on. I wouldn’t give up. And that’s what somebody as good as Dave does. In any profession, you need someone like Dave to make you want to be better.”

Tags: david letterman , kennedy center honors , tina fey , alec baldwin , jimmy kimmel , ray romano

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