Watch this touching tribute to David Letterman.

Watch This Touching Tribute to David Letterman From His Childhood Friends, Who Are Not Bitter

Watch This Touching Tribute to David Letterman From His Childhood Friends, Who Are Not Bitter

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Nov. 9 2017 12:11 AM

Watch This Touching Tribute to David Letterman From His Childhood Friends, Who Are Not Bitter

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Letterman’s friends.

The Kennedy Center

It’s always heartwarming to see a celebrity maintain strong ties with his or her hometown, especially when they’ve been as successful as David Letterman, who received the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Oct. 22. The ceremony will air on PBS on Nov. 20, but the Kennedy Center posted this touching tribute to Letterman’s hometown roots, “David Letterman: Beginnings,” late last week. The Kennedy Center apparently sent Documentary Now’s Bill Hader and Fred Amisen to Letterman’s hometown of Broad Ripple Village in Indianapolis. There, they met with two of Letterman’s closest childhood friends, Ralph Masterson and Sam Cooper, who actually look a little like Bill Hader and Fred Armisen if you squint a little!

But entirely coincidental resemblances aside, Masterson and Cooper’s warm accounts of Letterman’s deep local roots and childhood antics are heartwarming. You can see from their eyes that they have very strong feelings about the groundbreaking late night host: Whether the subject is the unexpected way his style of humor became popular, his fallout with Jay Leno, or even the origin of his famous “Stupid Pet Tricks” segments, the two men make it clear what a long shadow their old friend has cast and how deeply his success continues to affect their lives. Masterson even gets a little teary-eyed when he remembers Letterman’s legendary “pencil toss” bit, which, he reveals, was actually the kind of inside joke you can only share with your oldest, closest friends—the ones who’ve seen you at your worst. Get your tissues ready.