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David Letterman fact checks Steve Martin at Peabody Awards

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Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Peabody

Heartfelt speeches about legacy are a mainstay of awards ceremonies. However, when the people involved are lifelong comedic tricksters like Steve Martin and David Letterman, things go awry.

Letterman was honored at the Peabody Awards in New York on May 21. The introduction began on the right foot, with Martin calling him a “television legend we all know and fear.”

Soon after, however, Martin’s lines raised some questions: Was Letterman’s iconic show really called Dance-A-Thon? Did it really last 49 years? Luckily, Letterman himself was just off stage — and he wasn’t shy about shouting out fact corrections to Martin. For example, it was the Late Show, and Letterman hosted it for 33 years, after 10 years of Late Night on NBC.

The jokes continued in his acceptance remarks, with Letterman commenting on the reality of retirement: “I tell you, if you want to have something affect your self-esteem, retire.”

He also told a story about recently getting invited to a state dinner by the Obamas and sticking out like a sore thumb. “You get invited to the state dinner, nobody knows why,” Letterman said. “That’s the sum total of being retired.”

Watch the Letterman and Martin grab laughs in the clip above. The 75th Anniversary Peabody Awards special airs June 6 at 8 p.m. ET on Pivot.