David Letterman on Trump, 'Hunchback' Bannon and why Alec Baldwin 'deserves a Presidential Medal of Freedom'


David Letterman says if he still hosted TheLate Show all he would talk about is President Donald Trump until "people would have to come and take me off the stage."

In an interview with New York Magazine, Letterman gave his thoughts on the omnishambles that is the nascent Trump administration, their troubling authoritarian tendencies and whether he felt he was missing out on the target rich comedy environment right now, an environment in which comedians have an "obligation" to take on the President.

"[C]an you imagine not doing Trump jokes? That would seem bizarre," said Letterman when asked if it was a responsibility of the various late night hosts to skewer the President. He had high praise for Saturday Night Live's often brutal weekly hits at the administration in particular for Alec Baldwin's impression of Trump. "Comedy's one of the ways that we can protect ourselves. Alec Baldwin deserves a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Sadly, he's not going to get it from this president."

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David Letterman, Late Night, through the years
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)
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Letterman said that after 30 years in the business the last thing he wanted to do was watch late night TV but he had heard good things about Seth Meyers and his successor at The Late Show, Stephen Colbert. On the subject of Jimmy Fallon's now infamous softball interview with Trump (where he messed up The Donald's hair), Letterman has some sympathy for The Tonight Show host who suffered a backlash for playing it safe, but also believes he would have approached things differently. "I don't want to criticize Jimmy Fallon, but I can only tell you what I would have done in that situation: I would have gone to work on Trump. But the thing about it is, you don't have to concoct a complicated satirical premise to joke about Donald Trump.", he said.

Needing no prompting, Letterman took aim at the various characters in the Trump administration who have become a staple of late-night jokes including White House advisors Steve Bannon ("the Hunchback of Notre Dame") and Stephen Miller ("creepy" guy who "fell out of a truck"), press secretary Sean Spicer ("a boob") and his personal favorite Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway ("boy, if this administration decides you need counseling — whoa").

Late Night with David Letterman - Season 6NBCU via Getty

But it was Trump, or "Trumpy" as Letterman calls him, who would be the chief target. Letterman spoke a little about his long past interviewing the real estate mogul and he would always take the opportunity to make fun of him. "He was a joke of a wealthy guy. We didn't take him seriously. He'd sit down, and I would just start making fun of him. He never had any retort. He was big and doughy, and you could beat him up. He seemed to have a good time, and the audience loved it, and that was Donald Trump." he said adding that Trump loved the publicity either way.

Letterman said he would love to interview Trump one last time and outlined how he would do it. "I would just start with a list. "You did this. You did that. Don't you feel stupid for having done that, Don? And who's this goon Steve Bannon, and why do you want a white supremacist as one of your advisers? Come on, Don, we both know you're lying. Now, stop it."

Seemingly enjoying retirement, Letterman also find time to discuss the late-night TV landscape that has vastly changed since he and Jay Leno ran things. He said he would struggle in an era where viral online clips and skits reign supreme and where puff-piece interviews abound. He agreed that the interview had become almost an afterthought and could see that even towards the end of his time. "Well, at some point publicists took over the talk shows," he said adding: "They were the people that booked the guests, and they had six or seven guests, so you had to be awfully nice to Guest A if you wanted to get to Guest B or C."

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Donald Trump's life leading up to the election
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Donald Trump's life leading up to the election

Bound for the rigors of business school in the future, Donald Trump received discipline at an early age by attending a military academy. There, he reportedly excelled in extracurricular activities such as being the Honor Cadet.

Donald Trump in the New York Military Academy's 1964 yearbook

Source: Classmates

As someone who loves the art of negotiation, Donald Trump was able to negotiate New York City to provide a 40-year tax abatement for the Grand Hyatt Hotel — the first ever granted to a commercial property.

(Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Master renovator: Trump offered to renovate decrepit areas in need, such as a long-closed ice-skating rink, at no profit to himself, after the city's renovation effort went through five years of delays and more than double the original cost estimate.

(Photo by Michael Schwartz / (c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images)

Trump's enterprise also stretched out into sports, where he was the original owner of the New Jersey Generals of the United States Football League.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - CIRCA 1983: Team Owner Donald Trump announces he has signed Herschel Walker to play running back for the New Jersey Generals in New Jersey. Walker played for the General form 1983-85.

(Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images)

Trump owns a fleet of luxury helicopters.

Donald Trump, real estate mogul, entrepreneur, and billionare, utilizes his personal helicopter to get around on August 1987 in New York City.

(Photo by Joe McNally/Getty Images)
Trump was also notorious for befriending attractive supermodels. His first wife, Ivana, a Czech-American, was a member of the social elite.

Ivana Trump and Donald Trump are seen in December 1982 in New York City.

(Photo by Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images)
No expense was spared for his belongings, as Donald Trump once paid the sultan of Brunei $30 million for a nearly 300-foot yacht.

American businessman Donald Trump and his wife Ivana sit at a table on board their luxury yacht The Trump Princess, anchored outside the Water Club, New York City, July 1988.

(Photo by Tom Gates/Getty Images)
To test the political waters, the potential Reform Party presidential candidate traveled to several areas to address party leaders.

New York real estate developer Donald Trump (L) answers questions as Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura looks on in Brooklyn Park, January 7. Trump said on Friday he "very well might" make a run for president under the Reform Party banner but had not made a final decision. "I'm looking very seriously if I can win," he told reporters. "And if I can win, I believe I can do a very good job." Trump came to Minnesota to raise money for the party's highest elected official, Governor Ventura, who made it clear that he and the New York developer were on the same wavelength.

(STR New / Reuters)

Trump also enjoys tennis — he even played a round, wearing his traditional suit, against the legendary Serena Williams.

Developer Donald Trump talks with his former wife Ivana Trump during the men's final at the U.S. Open September 7, 1997. REUTERS/File Photo 

He also became the owner of the infamous Miss Universe beauty pageant for many years.

Donald Trump and Miss Connecticut USA Erin Brady poses onstage after winning the 2013 Miss USA pageant at PH Live at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on June 16, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

(Photo by Michael Stewart/WireImage)

Unbeknownst to many, Donald Trump is a formidable opponent on the green. He owns 15 golf courses.

Donald Trump announced on Saturday, 11/9/02 a major addition to his West Coast properties as he purchased the Ocean Trails Golf Club in Rancho Palos Verdes. He discussed the improvements and additions to the club to members of the Rancho Palos Verdes community on Saturday morning. Ocean Trails made headlines in 1999 when days before its scheduled opening, part of the course's 18th hole slid into the Pacific Ocean. The club will reopen in June, 2003 under Trump's direction. 

(Photo by Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Sometimes, negotiating can be a tough sport. What better way to exert your dominance by taking the center stage among the world's most bombastic figures?

Donald Trump, Stone Cold Steve Austin and WWE wrestler Bobby Lashley get ready to shave Vince McMahon's head after McMahons lost the main event of the night, 'Hair vs. Hair', between Vince McMahon and Donald Trump. WrestleMania 23 at Detroit's Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan on April 1, 2007.

(Photo by Leon Halip/WireImage)

As the fog of the political battlefield has cleared on the Republican side, Trump is now preparing for a likely battle with presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Donald Trump (C), flanked by his children Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr., addresses the media in Chicago May 10, 2006. Trump was in Chicago to speak about his Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago that is being built on the old site of the Chicago Sun-Times building on the north side of the Chicago River.

(REUTERS/Stephen J. Carrera)

Being the entertaining host, Trump also spared no expense in providing a spectacular show for friends and family.

 Developer and multi-millionaire Donald Trump (R) watches as ex-wife Marla Maples gets a kiss from Earl Sinclair of TV's 'Dinosaurs' during lunch at the Trump Plaza Hotel November 2, 1992. REUTERS/Henry Ray Abrams

As a self-proclaimed family man, Trump attended many public events and television shows with his family, even before his current campaign.

 Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump attend U.S. Open Tennis Tournament on August 30, 1991 at Flushing Meadows Park in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

Source: Oprah

Trump first started showing signs of interest for a possible bid for the US presidency with the formation of a presidential exploratory committee ahead of the 2000 election.

Billionaire real estate developer Donald Trump (R) talks with host Larry King after taping a segment of King's CNN talk show, in New York October 7. Reuters

Source: Reuters

In 2005, Donald Trump married fashion designer and model Melania Trump.

Real estate magnate Donald Trump (L) and Melania Trump leave Hollinger International's annual meeting at the Metropolitan Club in New York on May 22, 2003.

REUTERS/Peter Morgan PM/ME

Source: PolitiFact

As no stranger to the political process, Donald Trump was even acquainted with members of the judicial branch.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (L), serving as the grand marshal for the Daytona 500, speaks to Donald Trump  on the starting grid at the Daytona International Speedway February 14. JLS/ELD

Trump famously launched his presidential campaign in June 2015 by coming down an escalator in Trump Tower. Since then, he has weathered waves of controversy to become the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

 (Photo by Christopher Gregory/Getty Images)

Trump made his final appeal to voters in swing-states as the contentious campaign drew to a close.

 Donald Trump speaks at a rally at SNHU Arena in Manchester, NH, on Nov. 7, 2016, the night before election day. (Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

President-elect Trump at his election night party at the Hilton Hotel in New York City.

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09: Republican president-elect Donald Trump acknowledges the crowd during his election night event. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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