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President Obama kept the audience laughing at the Kennedy Center Honors on Sunday night.
The Washington D.C. event bestowed the nation’s highest award for individuals who have influenced American culture on bluesman Buddy Guy, actor Dustin Hoffman, late-night host David Letterman, ballerina Natalia Makarova and Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.
The president drew laughs when he described the diverse group of honorees as “some extraordinary people who have no business being on the same stage together,” the Associated Press reported.
Obama then proceeded to roast the honorees, noting Letterman’s humble beginnings as an Indianapolis weatherman, once reporting that hail “the size of canned hams” was coming down.
“It’s one of the highlights of his career,” Obama said.
He also thanked the members Led Zeppelin for behaving themselves since they have a reputation of “hotel rooms trashed and mayhem all around.”
“It’s fitting that we’re doing this in a room with windows that are about three inches thick and Secret Service all around,” Obama quipped.
Turning serious, Obama added that all of the honorees have “inspired us to see things in a new way, to hear things differently, to discover something within us or to appreciate how much beauty there is in the world.”
Among the stars turning out for Sunday’s event were Robert De Niro, Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, Ray Romano and Dave Grohl.
Meryl Streep first introduced the honorees Saturday during a dinner hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“Dave and I have a history,” Clinton quipped at the event. “I have been a guest on his show several times, and if you include references to my pant suits, I’m on at least once a week.”
The Kennedy Center Honors ceremony will air Dec. 26 on CBS.
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