David Letterman was honored at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. last night with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

A star-studded cast of Letterman’s friends and colleagues including Bill Murray, Martin Short, Jimmy Kimmel, and Steve Martin paid tribute to the wacky humor and accomplishments of the broadcasting icon who began his career as a weatherman in Indianapolis.

“This is an exciting honor,” said the longest-serving host in US late-night television. “For 33 years, there was no better guest, no greater friend of the show, than Mark Twain. The guy could really tell a story.”

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Letterman was hailed as an innovative late night host whose antics broke the mold of genre giant Johnny Carson. (Listen to the NPR recap below)

“He threw melons from a building,” Kimmel said, recalling the time when the host dropped watermelons off a five-story rooftop.

Overall, he hosted 6,028 episodes of Late Night (NBC) and The Late Show (CBS), surpassing his mentor, Carson. As a writer, producer and performer, Letterman is one of the most-nominated people in Emmy Award history, with 52 nominations, resulting in 10 wins.

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The 20th annual Mark Twain Prize show is a co-production of WETA-TV, with the edited show airing on all PBS stations on Monday, November 20 (at 9 p.m. ET – check local listings).

(WATCH the AP preview of the show — or LISTEN to the NPR recap below) – Photo via the Twain Prize website, PBS)

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