"If you want to have something affect your self-esteem, retire": David Letterman sums up his golden years with one perfect anecdote

Letterman talks about his supremely awkward moment at a White House state dinner a few weeks back

Published May 23, 2016 5:14PM (EDT)

  (YouTube/Ball State University)
(YouTube/Ball State University)

Approximately one year since retiring, David Letterman received a Peabody Award Saturday night for his 22-year tenure as host of "Late Show."

Until now, Letterman's retirement has been largely characterized by his achievement beard.

But during his acceptance speech, Letterman recalled a moment during his recent White House state dinner that put the woes of retirement in perspective.

"I tell you, if you want to have something affect your self-esteem, retire," Letterman told the audience, adding:

"So I'm seated at dinner next to a man who is the assistant chief of staff to the prime minister of Norway. And I'm feeling like a big shot ... And when it comes about dessert time, and the guy says to me, 'Excuse me. Why are you here?' And I said, You know what? I think I picked up somebody else's mail. And he said, 'So you're here by mistake?' And I said, Yeah. And he said, 'Oh.' So there you go  you get invited to the state dinner, nobody knows why. That's the sum total of being retired."

Read a partial transcript of Letterman's acceptance speech c/o Vulture.

By Brendan Gauthier

Brendan Gauthier is a freelance writer.

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David Letterman Late Show Peabody Awards Retirement