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Letterman up for jabs with Kennedy Center Honors

  • 2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Natalia Makarova, front row, second right, reacts to all the photos being taken during a group photo after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. From left are former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Paul Johns, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Page, Makarova, Robert Plant, Dustin Hoffman and David Letterman. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

    2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Natalia Makarova, front row, second right, reacts to all the photos being taken during a group photo after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. From left are former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Paul Johns, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Page, Makarova, Robert Plant, Dustin Hoffman and David Letterman. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

  • 2012 Kennedy Center Honoree comedian David Letterman shakes hands with his wife Regina as they arrive at the State Department for the Kennedy Center Honors Gala Dinner on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

    2012 Kennedy Center Honoree comedian David Letterman shakes hands with his wife Regina as they arrive at the State Department for the Kennedy Center Honors Gala Dinner on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

  • 2012 Kennedy Center Honoree comedian David Letterman shakes hands with his wife Regina as they arrive at the State Department for the Kennedy Center Honors Gala Dinner on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

    2012 Kennedy Center Honoree comedian David Letterman shakes hands with his wife Regina as they arrive at the State Department for the Kennedy Center Honors Gala Dinner on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

  • The 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees, from left, John Paul Jones, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Page, Natalia Makarova, Robert Plant, Dustin Hoffman, and David Letterman pose for a group photo after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

    The 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees, from left, John Paul Jones, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Page, Natalia Makarova, Robert Plant, Dustin Hoffman, and David Letterman pose for a group photo after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

  • The 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees, from left, John Paul Jones, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Page, Natalia Makarova, Robert Plant, Dustin Hoffman, and David Letterman pose for a group photo after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

    The 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees, from left, John Paul Jones, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Page, Natalia Makarova, Robert Plant, Dustin Hoffman, and David Letterman pose for a group photo after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

  • The 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, second from left, wait for former President Bill Clinton, left, to join them for a group photo after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. The 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees are, from left, John Paul Jones, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Page, Natalia Makarova, Robert Plant, Dustin Hoffman, and David Letterman. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

    The 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, second from left, wait for former President Bill Clinton, left, to join them for a group photo after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. The 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees are, from left, John Paul Jones, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Page, Natalia Makarova, Robert Plant, Dustin Hoffman, and David Letterman. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

  • The 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, second from left, wait for former President Bill Clinton, left, to join them for a group photo after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. The 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees are, from left, John Paul Jones, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Page, Natalia Makarova, Robert Plant, Dustin Hoffman, and David Letterman. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

    The 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, second from left, wait for former President Bill Clinton, left, to join them for a group photo after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. The 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees are, from left, John Paul Jones, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Page, Natalia Makarova, Robert Plant, Dustin Hoffman, and David Letterman. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

  • Actress Meryl Streep uses her iPhone to get a photo of her and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton following the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

    Actress Meryl Streep uses her iPhone to get a photo of her and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton following the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

  • Actress Meryl Streep uses her iPhone to get a photo of her and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton following the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

    Actress Meryl Streep uses her iPhone to get a photo of her and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton following the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

  • 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees and members of Led Zeppelin John Paul Jones, left, Jimmy Page, second from left, and Robert Plant, right, talk with fellow 2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Buddy Guy at the end of the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

    2012 Kennedy Center Honorees and members of Led Zeppelin John Paul Jones, left, Jimmy Page, second from left, and Robert Plant, right, talk with fellow 2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Buddy Guy at the end of the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

  • 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees and members of Led Zeppelin John Paul Jones, left, Jimmy Page, second from left, and Robert Plant, right, talk with fellow 2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Buddy Guy at the end of the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

    2012 Kennedy Center Honorees and members of Led Zeppelin John Paul Jones, left, Jimmy Page, second from left, and Robert Plant, right, talk with fellow 2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Buddy Guy at the end of the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

  • 2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Natalia Makarova, right, congratulates fellow honoree Dustin Hoffman, second from right, as he stands with honorees Buddy Guy, left, and Robert Plant, after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

    2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Natalia Makarova, right, congratulates fellow honoree Dustin Hoffman, second from right, as he stands with honorees Buddy Guy, left, and Robert Plant, after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

  • 2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Natalia Makarova, right, congratulates fellow honoree Dustin Hoffman, second from right, as he stands with honorees Buddy Guy, left, and Robert Plant, after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

    2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Natalia Makarova, right, congratulates fellow honoree Dustin Hoffman, second from right, as he stands with honorees Buddy Guy, left, and Robert Plant, after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

  • Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, hugs 2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Natalia Makarova at the end of the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, hugs 2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Natalia Makarova at the end of the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

  • Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, hugs 2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Natalia Makarova at the end of the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, hugs 2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Natalia Makarova at the end of the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

  • 2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Buddy Guy, second from left, congratulates fellow honoree Dustin Hoffman, right, after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. Photographed with Guy and Hoffman are fellow honorees Jimmy Page, left, and Robert Plant. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

    2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Buddy Guy, second from left, congratulates fellow honoree Dustin Hoffman, right, after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. Photographed with Guy and Hoffman are fellow honorees Jimmy Page, left, and Robert Plant. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

  • 2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Buddy Guy, second from left, congratulates fellow honoree Dustin Hoffman, right, after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. Photographed with Guy and Hoffman are fellow honorees Jimmy Page, left, and Robert Plant. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

    2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Buddy Guy, second from left, congratulates fellow honoree Dustin Hoffman, right, after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. Photographed with Guy and Hoffman are fellow honorees Jimmy Page, left, and Robert Plant. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

  • 2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Natalia Makarova, front row, second right, reacts to all the photos being taken during a group photo after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. From left are former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Paul Johns, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Page, Makarova, Robert Plant, Dustin Hoffman and David Letterman. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

    2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Natalia Makarova, front row, second right, reacts to all the photos being taken during a group photo after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. From left are former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Paul Johns, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Page, Makarova, Robert Plant, Dustin Hoffman and David Letterman. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

  • 2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Natalia Makarova, front row, second right, reacts to all the photos being taken during a group photo after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. From left are former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Paul Johns, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Page, Makarova, Robert Plant, Dustin Hoffman and David Letterman. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

    2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Natalia Makarova, front row, second right, reacts to all the photos being taken during a group photo after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. From left are former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Paul Johns, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Page, Makarova, Robert Plant, Dustin Hoffman and David Letterman. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

  • 2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Natalia Makarova, front row, second right, reacts to all the photos being taken during a group photo after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. From left are former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Paul Johns, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Page, Makarova, Robert Plant, Dustin Hoffman and David Letterman. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
  • 2012 Kennedy Center Honoree comedian David Letterman shakes hands with his wife Regina as they arrive at the State Department for the Kennedy Center Honors Gala Dinner on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
  • 2012 Kennedy Center Honoree comedian David Letterman shakes hands with his wife Regina as they arrive at the State Department for the Kennedy Center Honors Gala Dinner on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
  • The 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees, from left, John Paul Jones, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Page, Natalia Makarova, Robert Plant, Dustin Hoffman, and David Letterman pose for a group photo after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
  • The 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees, from left, John Paul Jones, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Page, Natalia Makarova, Robert Plant, Dustin Hoffman, and David Letterman pose for a group photo after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
  • The 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, second from left, wait for former President Bill Clinton, left, to join them for a group photo after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. The 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees are, from left, John Paul Jones, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Page, Natalia Makarova, Robert Plant, Dustin Hoffman, and David Letterman. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
  • The 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, second from left, wait for former President Bill Clinton, left, to join them for a group photo after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. The 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees are, from left, John Paul Jones, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Page, Natalia Makarova, Robert Plant, Dustin Hoffman, and David Letterman. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
  • Actress Meryl Streep uses her iPhone to get a photo of her and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton following the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
  • Actress Meryl Streep uses her iPhone to get a photo of her and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton following the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
  • 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees and members of Led Zeppelin John Paul Jones, left, Jimmy Page, second from left, and Robert Plant, right, talk with fellow 2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Buddy Guy at the end of the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
  • 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees and members of Led Zeppelin John Paul Jones, left, Jimmy Page, second from left, and Robert Plant, right, talk with fellow 2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Buddy Guy at the end of the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
  • 2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Natalia Makarova, right, congratulates fellow honoree Dustin Hoffman, second from right, as he stands with honorees Buddy Guy, left, and Robert Plant, after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
  • 2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Natalia Makarova, right, congratulates fellow honoree Dustin Hoffman, second from right, as he stands with honorees Buddy Guy, left, and Robert Plant, after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
  • Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, hugs 2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Natalia Makarova at the end of the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
  • Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, hugs 2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Natalia Makarova at the end of the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
  • 2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Buddy Guy, second from left, congratulates fellow honoree Dustin Hoffman, right, after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. Photographed with Guy and Hoffman are fellow honorees Jimmy Page, left, and Robert Plant. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
  • 2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Buddy Guy, second from left, congratulates fellow honoree Dustin Hoffman, right, after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. Photographed with Guy and Hoffman are fellow honorees Jimmy Page, left, and Robert Plant. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
  • 2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Natalia Makarova, front row, second right, reacts to all the photos being taken during a group photo after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. From left are former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Paul Johns, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Page, Makarova, Robert Plant, Dustin Hoffman and David Letterman. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
  • 2012 Kennedy Center Honoree Natalia Makarova, front row, second right, reacts to all the photos being taken during a group photo after the State Department Dinner for the Kennedy Center Honors gala Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012 at the State Department in Washington. From left are former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Paul Johns, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Page, Makarova, Robert Plant, Dustin Hoffman and David Letterman. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

David Letterman’s “stupid human tricks” and Top 10 lists are being vaulted into the ranks of cultural acclaim as the late-night comedian receives this year’s Kennedy Center Honors with rock band Led Zeppelin and three other artists.

Stars from New York, Hollywood and the music world gathered yesterday in Washington to salute the comedian and the band, along with Dustin Hoffman, Chicago bluesman Buddy Guy and ballerina Natalia Makarova.

The honors are the nation’s highest award for those who influenced American culture through the arts. President Obama will host the honorees at the White House before they are saluted by fellow performers in a show to be broadcast Dec. 26 on CBS.

Meryl Streep introduced the honorees Saturday during a dinner at the U.S. State Department and noted Letterman had surpassed his mentor, Johnny Carson, in sustaining the longest late-night television career for more than 30 years.

Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel joined in celebrating his influence on many other comedians.

“I knew Johnny, and I loved Johnny. Johnny was beyond reproach,” Colbert said in a toast to Letterman. “Dave was stupid. Dave was ours. Dave was like us.

“We wanted to throw things off of buildings. . . . We would love to stick our heads out the window of 30 Rock and yell at passers-by, ‘I’m not wearing any pants!’ ”

Colbert marveled at Letterman receiving such an award after he “corrupted the minds of a generation.”

Paul Shaffer, Letterman’s longtime band leader, said he knew his boss was uncomfortable hearing such accolades, but that he was also enjoying every second of it.

Big names from the rock world dressed in black tie for the occasion to honor their heroes in Led Zeppelin as a string ensemble played “Kashmir” and other tunes at the State Department.

Foo Fighters singer Dave Grohl said he never took any music lessons when he was starting out because “my teachers were Led Zeppelin. . . . They were the most powerful thing in my life.”

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