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
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

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]

5 PHOTOS
David Letterman, Late Night, through the years
See Gallery
Jimmy Kimmel's emotional Letterman tribute: I learned how to do everything from Dave
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)
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)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

"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

People Have Been Making Chicken Wrong The Whole Time - Here's The Best Way To Do It People Have Been Making Chicken Wrong The Whole Time - Here's The Best Way To Do It
Farmer Came Outside To Check On The Animals - And Found This In Her Pasture Instead Farmer Came Outside To Check On The Animals - And Found This In Her Pasture Instead
Glass-Printed Photos from Fracture Are an Easy Way to Make Your Room All Nice and Pretty Glass-Printed Photos from Fracture Are an Easy Way to Make Your Room All Nice and Pretty