Jimmy Kimmel's emotional Letterman tribute: I learned how to do everything from Dave

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
Why Losing Letterman Means Losing the Late Night TV Formula


On the eve of David Letterman's final Late Show, an emotional Jimmy Kimmel took a moment to pay tribute to his childhood idol on Tuesday's Jimmy Kimmel Live.

5 PHOTOS
Kimmel-letterman
See Gallery
Jimmy Kimmel's emotional Letterman tribute: I learned how to do everything from Dave
WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 30: THE 35TH ANNUAL KENNEDY CENTER HONORS--Bluesman Buddy Guy, actor Dustin Hoffman, comedian and television host David Letterman, ballerina Natalia Makarova and rock band Led Zeppelin will receive honors for 2012 on THE 35TH ANNUAL KENNEDY CENTER HONORS, to be broadcast Wednesday, Dec. 26 (9:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured L-R: Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Ray Romano, and Jimmy Kimmel (Photo by Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS via Getty Images)
JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE - Jimmy Kimmel returns to his birthplace, Brooklyn, NY, for an entire week of broadcasts of his late-night talk show, JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE, from Oct.30th to Nov. 2nd, airing 12:00-1:06am, on the ABC Television Network. Guests for WEDNESDAY, OCT. 31 include Dave Letterman and musical guest Vampire Weekend. (Photo by Jeff Neira/ABC via Getty Images) DAVE LETTERMAN, JIMMY KIMMEL
JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE - Jimmy Kimmel returns to his birthplace, Brooklyn, NY, for an entire week of broadcasts of his late-night talk show, JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE, from Oct.30th to Nov. 2nd, airing 12:00-1:06am, on the ABC Television Network. Guests for WEDNESDAY, OCT. 31 include Dave Letterman and musical guest Vampire Weekend. (Photo by Jeff Neira/ABC via Getty Images) DAVE LETTERMAN, JIMMY KIMMEL
JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE - Jimmy Kimmel returns to his birthplace, Brooklyn, NY, for an entire week of broadcasts of his late-night talk show, JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE, from Oct.30th to Nov. 2nd, airing 12:00-1:06am, on the ABC Television Network. Guests for WEDNESDAY, OCT. 31 include Dave Letterman and musical guest Vampire Weekend. (Photo by Jeff Neira/ABC via Getty Images) DAVE LETTERMAN, JIMMY KIMMEL
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

As an aspiring artist in his teenage years, Kimmel revered Letterman, whose Late Night program he would have on in the background as he drew late into the evening.

"Even though it looked like every other talk show – it wasn't," the 47-year-old late-night host said during his monologue. "It was totally original, primarily because of the host of the show who, a lot of time, seemed embarrassed to be there."

WATCH: Bill Murray Pops Out of a Cake as He Says Goodbye to Letterman
PHOTOS: 13 of David Letterman's Most Memorable Celebrity Moments

Kimmel revealed that he began "drawing pictures of Dave on the covers of all my textbooks at school." He even had a Late Night With David Letterman-themed birthday cake when he turned 16, as well as a Letterman letterman jacket and license plate that said "L&NITE."

Kimmel's adoration for Letterman was boundless.

"We had no VCR, so I would have David Letterman viewing parties at my house in the middle of the night," he shared. "My friends who also loved the show would come over... at midnight and we would drink soda and watch the show. Looking back, I figured out why none of the girls at school wanted to have sex with me."

Kimmel admitted college was a waste ("I learned almost nothing") for him, but it was Letterman's Late Night that proved to be his course to life – and eventually lead him to his own late-night career.

[Letterman through the years]

35 PHOTOS
David Letterman, Late Night, through the years
See Gallery
Jimmy Kimmel's emotional Letterman tribute: I learned how to do everything from Dave
David Letterman at reception in NBC's Studio 6A January 19, 1982 at the announcement of new NBC comedy show "Late Night With David Letterman". (AP Photo/Perez)
FILE - In this Feb. 1, 1982 file photo, host David Letterman, right, and guest Bill Murray appear at the taping of the debut of "Late Night with David Letterman" in New York. Murray's 44th and final appearance Tuesday, May 19, 2015, will mark the end of late-night television's most unique and enduring host-guest relationships. After 33 years in late night and 22 years hosting CBS' "Late Show," Letterman will retire on May 20. (AP Photo/Nancy Kaye, File)
David Letterman, host of NBC-TV's "Late Night with David Letterman, " is taken from a tank of water and placed onto a scale in New York while wearing a specially designed suit of sponges, Feb. 14, 1985. Letterman weighed 190 lbs. before and a whopping 500 lbs. after soaking up about 25 gallons of water, during taping for Thursday night's show. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Comedian David Letterman shown June 5, 1985. (AP Photo/Wally Fong)
Comedian David Letterman holds his award at the 37th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony in Pasadena, Ca., Sunday, Sept. 22, 1985. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
David Letterman in his office at NBC on Jan. 28, 1986 after taping his show. (AP Photo/Mario Suriani)
Performer Paul Simon listens to David Letterman on the set of NBC's "Late Night with David Letterman" in New York, Sept. 11, 1986. Simon was promoting his latest album "Graceland" which features African music. (AP Photo/David Bookstaver)
Farmer Bob Corbett, left, of North Lewisburg, Ohio, shepherds his prize-winning boar named Hog Chief past host David Letterman on the set of NBC's "Late Night with David Letterman" in New York, April 24, 1987. The boar, who had lost of few of his 1,205 pounds when he went on the show, is working to set a world weight record for pigs next August. (AP Photo/G. Paul Burnett)
Bette Davis is a guest of "Late Night With David Letterman" on the set at NBC studios, May 26, 1987. (AP Photo/Ron Frehm)
NBC television's David Letterman, left, guards first base while CBS television's Bob Schieffer, substituting for Dan Rather, keeps one foot planted on the base at New York's Yankee Stadium, Aug. 22, 1987. CBS won the annual challenge between "Late Night With David Letterman" and CBS' "Evening News" with a score of 14-3. (AP Photo/Rick Maiman)
Talk show host David Letterman, center poses with baseball legends Ted Williams, right, and Joe Garagiola, Jan. 1993. (AP Photo)
FILE - In this Jan. 14, 1993 file photo, talk-show host David Letterman announces his move from NBC to CBS at a news conference at CBS Studios in New York. Letterman's show "Late Show with David Letterman," on CBS ran against NBC's "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno. After 33 years in late night and 22 years hosting CBS' "Late Show," Letterman will retire on May 20. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
David Letterman, host of NBC's Late Night, speaks during a news conference in New York on July 15, 1993 announcing his move to CBS. Letterman earned an Emmy nomination for best variety, music or comedy series on Thursday, July 22, 1993. (AP Photo/ Alex Brandon)
David Letterman, right, and Bill Murray wave from the side door of the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York on Monday, August 30, 1993. David Letterman brings his late-night lunacy to CBS with guests including comedian-actor Bill Murray and Joel, as well as what the network billed as ?big surprises.? (AP Photo/Jim Cooper)
Television talks show veteran Tom Snyder, left, laughs during an appearance on CBS? ?Late Show with David Letterman,? on Friday, April 22, 1994 in New York. Industry sources have said that Snyder is currently the frontrunner to host the network?s newest talk show that will air at 12:30 a.m., following Letterman?s show. (AP Photo/Alan Singer)
David Letterman is shown during his opening monologue as host of the 67th annual Academy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, Ca., Monday, March 27, 1995. (AP Photo/Michael Caulfield)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: US Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore (R) with talk show host David Letterman 14 September, 2000 after the taping of Letterman's show at the Sullivan Theater in New York City. AFP PHOTO/ Luke FRAZZA (Photo credit should read LUKE FRAZZA/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: Republican presidental candidate and Texas Governor George W. Bush (L) poses for photographers with David Letterman after concluding taping of the 19 October 2000 Late Show with David Letterman in New York. Bush read the Top Ten list poking fun at what he might do if elected. AFP Photo by Paul J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - DECEMBER 24: In this handout photo provided by the U.S. Air Force, 'Late Show' television host David Letterman entertains soldiers at the Coalition Provisional Authority headquarters December 24, 2003 in Baghdad, Iraq. (Photo by Reynaldo Ramon/U.S. Air Force via Getty Images)
Team co-owner David Letterman reacts as one of the team's drivers, Buddy Rice, wins the rain-shortened Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Sunday, May 30, 2004, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Tom Strattman)
Late night talk show host David Letterman salutes "Tonight" show host Johnny Carson during a tribute to the late entertainer during the 57th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2005, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
David Letterman, left, applauds musician Paul McCartney after his performance atop the Ed Sullivan Theater marquee during a taping of "The Late Show with David Letterman" in New York, Wednesday, July 15, 2009. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)
President Barack Obama is pictured with host David Letterman during a break at a taping of CBS The Late Show with David Letterman, Monday, Sept. 21, 2009, at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
David Letterman appears onstage at the “The Comedy Awards” presented by Comedy Central in New York, Saturday, March 26, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)
Late night talk show host David Letterman speaks at the International Rescue Committee Freedom Award Dinner at The Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York on Wednesday Nov. 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Eric Reichbaum)
President Barack Obama shakes hands with David Letterman on the set of the "Late Show With David Letterman" at the Ed Sullivan Theater, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, in New York. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Ball State University alumnus David Letterman, right, host of CBS's "Late Show," interviews Oprah Winfrey at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., Monday, Nov. 26, 2012. The conversation is part of the David Letterman Distinguished Professional Lecture and Workshop Series. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 5: David Letterman films a segment throwing footballs at a moving cab while at Late Show with David Letterman on May 5, 2014 in New York City. Credit: RW/MediaPunch/IPX
In this photo provided by CBS, Serena Williams talks with host David on the set of the “Late Show with David Letterman,” Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014, in New York. Williams will compete in the U.S. Open which begins on Aug. 25. (AP Photo/CBS, John Paul Filo)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 7: David Letterman seen outside the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City on October 7, 2014. Credit: RW/MediaPunch/IPX
FILE - In this March 2, 2015 file photo, David Letterman attends "An Evening of SeriousFun Celebrating the Legacy of Paul Newman", hosted by the SeriousFun Children's Network at Avery Fisher Hall in New York. After 33 years hosting late night talk shows, Letterman will retire on May 20. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK - MAY 7: Tina Fey takes off her dress after her last appearance on the CBS Late Show with David Letterman, Thursday May 7, 2015 on the CBS Television Network (Photo by John Paul Filo/CBS via Getty Images)
FILE - In this May 4, 2015 file photo, host David Letterman smiles during a break at a taping of "The Late Show with David Letterman," at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York. After 33 years in late night and 22 years hosting CBS' "Late Show," Letterman will retire on May 20. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
A picture of David Letterman hangs outside the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York, Wednesday, May 20, 2015. After 33 years and 6,028 broadcasts of his late-night show, David Letterman is retiring. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

"Not only did I learn how to do everything from Dave," Kimmel said, "the reason I have this show is because the executives at ABC saw me when I was a guest on Dave's show – and hired me to host this show. So I want to thank Dave and his writers and producers."

Kimmel won't go live during Letterman's late-night bow on Wednesday –- instead, a rerun has been scheduled -- and advised his viewers to turn over to CBS when 11:35 p.m. ET/PT rolls around.

"I would like it if you would make sure to watch that instead of our show," he said. "We will not have a show on tomorrow night ... but please do not watch it, especially if you're a young person who doesn't understand what all the fuss is about." "Dave is the best and you should see him," Kimmel closed.

Kimmel wasn't the only late-night host to give a tip of the cap to Letterman. Jimmy Fallon thanked Letterman on Monday's Tonight Show.

Lost Video of David Letterman from 1977 on The Starland Vocal Band Surfaces

"I, like every kid who grew up watching him, will miss him," Fallon said, before adding, "David Letterman is courageous. Have a nice retirement, Dave!"

Conan O'Brien, who will be the longest tenured late-night host once Letterman signs off, admitted to ET that he was "uncomfortable" with the 68-year-old leaving The Late Show.

"I don't like it," he said of Letterman's TV reign. "He's been there for 33 years, and it's not going to feel good to me when he's not on television."

ET revisited the top 10 moments with David Letterman. Press play in the video below to find out what made it!

ET's Top 10 Moments With David Letterman

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners