COMEDY

David Letterman Kennedy Center Honors 2012: Tina Fey, Jimmy Kimmel, Ray Romano & Alec Baldwin Pay Tribute (VIDEO)

12/28/2012 01:29 pm ET

After 30 years of making a nation laugh on late night TV, comedian David Letterman received the highest honor an American performer can be given at the 35th Annual Kennedy Center Honors in Washington D.C.

The ceremony and show held earlier this month aired on Wednesday Dec. 26, finally showing us the touching tributes Letterman's comedy peers delivered at the Kennedy Center Opera House on Dec. 2. Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Ray Romano and Jimmy Kimmel honored, roasted and said "I love you" to the legendary comedian while President and Michelle Obama laughed along in the audience.

In the video above, Tina Fey lauds Letterman as an American treasure (on par with "the top two Kardashians") before showing a video tribute to his incredible journey through late night TV, which she narrated.

Below, Alec Baldwin points out how much Letterman would seem to hate a big, fancy ceremony such as the Kennedy Center Honors before handing the stage over to Jimmy Kimmel, who is truly one of Letterman's biggest fans. After running through the various ways he worshiped him in high school (there was a "Late Night" birthday cake) Kimmel got serious about how much Letterman inspired him and how thankful he was when he appeared on his own show (and held him backstage).

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But perhaps it was Ray Romano who got the most emotional when addressing his comedy hero. After talking about his own career journey (and working ina few jokes at the President's expense) Romano said something to Letterman that he never got to say to his own father: "I love you."

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Check out photos of the ceremony and show below, featuring Letterman and his fellow honorees actor Dustin Hoffman, Chicago bluesman Buddy Guy, rock band Led Zeppelin and ballerina Natalia Makarova, as well as some distinguished guests.

2012 Kennedy Center Honors

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