One of the best things about the Kennedy Center Honors is that the honorees don’t get to say anything. That was particularly evident in the Dec. 26 broadcast, which included a tribute to David Letterman.
Serving as a kind of lifetime achievement awards in arts and culture, the Kennedy Center’s celebration features a testimonial, a short biographical film, and a creative presentation for each of the award recipients (this year’s class, in addition to Letterman, were Dustin Hoffman, Buddy Guy, Natalia Makarova, and Led Zeppelin. We see their reactions from their box seat perch with the President and First Lady, but there aren’t microphones anywhere near them.
So we didn’t have to hear Letterman try to mitigate the goofy praise being offered by Tina Fey, Ray Romano, and Jimmy Kimmel (who had the line of the night with: “You are the hero of all of us…with the possible exception of the people who came to see the ballerina”). Instead, we got to see him and his fellow honorees bask in justified praise for careers that had lasting impact on culture, pop and otherwise.
FYI: The last Indiana-connected artist to be honored by the Kennedy Center was choreographer Twyla Tharp in 2008.