The 6 funniest jokes from the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors

The Week's Editorial Staff
The Week

This year's honorees included David Letterman, Dustin Hoffman, and Led Zeppelin — and everyone from Tina Fey to President Obama had something to say about it

The Kennedy Center Honors, which are awarded annually to performers who have influenced American culture through the arts, have often doubled as an opportunity for the U.S. president to play comedian, and, at Sunday night’s ceremony, President Obama didn’t pass up the chance. As he introduced 2012’s eclectic group of honorees — actor Dustin Hoffman, talk-show host David Letterman, blues legend Buddy Guy, ballerina Natalia Makarova, and the three surviving members of Led Zeppelin — President Obama quipped about the White House tradition of "honoring some extraordinary people who have no business being on the same stage together."(Watch highlights from the Kennedy Center Honors below.) But the commander-in-chief wasn't the only attendee making gags. Here, 6 of the funniest jokes from the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors:

1. Obama on Hoffman: "When The Graduate was originally written, the main character was supposed to be Robert Redford — a tall, blond track star. And when Dustin Hoffman auditioned for the part, a crew member handed him a subway token on his way out, saying, 'here, kid, you're gonna need this.'"

2. Obama on Led Zeppelin: "Of course, these guys also redefined the rock and roll lifestyle. [...] So it's fitting that we're doing this in a room with windows that are about three inches thick, and Secret Service all around. So guys, just settle down."

3. Tina Fey on Letterman: "Was he a brilliant, subtle, passive-aggressive parody of a talk show host? Or just some Midwestern goon who was a little bit off? Time has proven that there's just really no way of knowing."

4. Jimmy Kimmel on Letterman: "To me it wasn't just a TV show. It was the reason I would fail to make love to a live woman for many, many years."

5. Robert De Niro on Hoffman: "Before Dustin burst on the scene, it was pretty much OK for movie stars to show up, read their lines and, if the director insisted, act a little. But then Dustin came along — and he just had to get everything right."

6. Jack Black on Led Zeppelin: “[Led Zeppelin is] better than the Beatles. Better than the Stones. Even better than Tenacious D. And that's not opinion — that's fact."

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Sources: USA Today, ReutersWall Street Journal (2) (3) (4)

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