The former late-night host showed up Sunday evening to announce the award for outstanding variety talk series.
But before revealing John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” as the winner, Letterman delivered a monologue of one-liners from the 1986 Emmys, which he hosted. He also donned a tuxedo he re-wore from the award show over three decades ago — and a thick beard so long, it fell past his bow tie.
“1986, what a great looking crowd – so many stars, so much cocaine. Is this the Emmys of the Mets locker room?” said Letterman, 73, as he stood in front of greener pastures.
David Letterman in 2014.
(Theo Wargo/2014 Getty Images for Spike TV)
Letterman’s appearance drew both praise and criticism from viewers, with one at-home fan tweeting “I really want to cut that beard right off David Letterman. Also, not funny, when he once was hilarious. But congratulations to John Oliver as he has been banging as we navigate this hellscape.”
“Thank you, David Letterman. Thank you, thank you, thank you for saving this s—show,” said another viewer while praising the icon. “I remember being in middle school and thinking he was the funniest person in the world. He still is.”
David Letterman appears at the 2020 Emmys.
Meanwhile, others likened Letterman’s looks to that of Santa Clause as the Christmas holiday draws near.
“Did you see David Letterman presenting at the Emmys? Am I right? Looks like Santa. So cute looking,” tweeted the viewer while another echoed the sentiment, writing, “David Letterman looking a little Santa Claus?!”
Letterman hosted NBC’s “Late Night with David Letterman” from 1982 to 1993 before pivoting to CBS for “The Late Show with David Letterman” from 1993 to 2015.
He exited the scene for a spell before returning to television, albeit via the streaming space where he’s since been the host of “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction” on Netflix.