The late night icon welcomed President Joe Biden to his first Kennedy Center Honors after his predecessor skipped out on the tradition for his entire presidency.
After four years, the Kennedy Center Honors finally had the President of the United States attend the yearly ceremony honoring icons from the entertainment world. When David Letterman, 74, kicked off the 44th annual ceremony, he celebrated the fact that President Joe Biden, 79, and First Lady Jill Biden, 70, attended the event on Sunday November 5, after former President Donald Trump, 75, had forgone the ceremony for his entire presidency.
As the My Next Guest Needs No Introduction star introduced the ceremony, he took note that the Bidens were at the yearly celebration. “Tonight, it is quite nice, very nice, to see the presidential box once again being occupied,” he told the audience, via The Guardian. After David’s warm welcome to the president and first lady, the crowd gave them both a standing ovation. David took one more crack at Trump, by celebrating Biden being in office. “And the same with the Oval Office,” he remarked. Other than the Bidens, there were plenty of other political figures attending, including Vice President Kamala Harris, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The yearly ceremony presents lifetime achievement awards to artists for excellence. This year’s crop of honorees included Bette Midler, Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels, folk music icon Joni Mitchell, Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, and opera singer Justino Díaz. During his introduction, David also made some light ribbing at the honorees’ expense. “This night is about the honorees whose unique gifts cross all boundaries and represent all parties from the left to the far left,” he said.
At a reception in the White House before the ceremony, Biden called the SNL producer a “wise guy” and worked in a hilarious joke about Lorne finding an cast member to impersonate him. “He’s trying out seven guys to play me. As we say in our family: bless me father for I have sinned. I don’t know what’s going to happen. And, finally, it’s my turn to say something about him,” he said, via Reuters. Still SNL head writer and “Weekend Update” host made a playful quip at Biden’s expense while honoring Lorne. “It’s a bit intimidating to do jokes in front of President Joe Biden. I keep having to remind myself, there’s no way he’s still awake right now,” the comic said.
The Kennedy Center Honors will air on CBS on December 22.