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Late Night: David Letterman revels in death threats [video]

August 23, 2011 |  9:31 am

David Letterman jokes about the death threats made against him by a Muslim extremist

Most performers thrive on adoration, but David Letterman always seems to be funnier when someone's hatin' on him. On Monday night, "The Late Show" host returned to the stage at Ed Sullivan Theater for the first time since an Internet jihadist threatened to cut out his tongue. Letterman seemed pretty unfazed by the "fat-wah" placed on his head. In fact, he seemed to delight in the whole ordeal.

Letterman began his monologue by showing his appreciation for his audience members. "You people are more than an audience tonight, really. You're more like a human shield." He claimed that he was late because "backstage I was talking to the guy from CBS. We were going through the CBS life-insurance policy to see if I was covered for jihad."

Letterman sounded a self-deprecating note, joking that "a guy, a radical extremist, threatened to cut my tongue out. I wish I had a nickel for every time a guy has threatened [that]... I think the first time was during the Academy Awards."

But he also managed to take a shot at his long-time nemesis, Jay Leno. "State department authorities are looking into this. They're not taking this lightly. There's an electronic trail there...but everybody knows it's Leno."

Letterman, whose comments about the death of alleged Al Qaeda leader Ilyas Kashmiri provoked the ire of Internet extremists, suggested they were being overly sensitive. "A guy gets assassinated, you can't tell a couple of jokes?"

"I take full responsibility for the joke. I'm a big boy. I told the joke. But you know the guy who wrote it? That guy," Letterman said, as the cameras cut to a show of "Late Show" writer Bill Scheft, looking panicked.

The monologue concluded with an exhaustive list of "Who Hates Dave." Among the names: Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Dave's mailman, Canada.

But not us, Dave! While we'd hate to see anything bad happen to Letterman, let's put it this way: Death threats do wonders for his comedy.

Click here to see the Top Ten list, which also covered the subject.


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Photo: David Letterman in March 2011. Credit: Jessica Rinaldi / Reuters