Franken offers touching tribute to Letterman: 'You changed comedy'


"Before we end – and I know you probably don't like this – I want to say something about you."

That was Al Franken on "The Late Show with David Letterman" Wednesday night, delivering a message to his longtime friend in the host's final run on the air.

Letterman though, being Letterman, couldn't just let it happen without getting a wisecrack in.

"Now wait a minute, what happened to climate change?" the host interrupted.

And Franken didn't miss a beat.

"Climate change, it's not real," he said, waving his arms and getting Letterman to crack up.

The senator from Minnesota's appearance on "The Late Show" came in the program's stretch run; Letterman's final airing will be May 20.

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Franken and Letterman go way back. The Minnesota native appeared on Letterman's talk show numerous times throughout the past few decades (though he hasn't been on since getting elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008), and the Star Tribune says the two have been friends since the Franken's "Saturday Night Live" days.

And Franken gave the longtime comedy icon some praise during the end of the interview Wednesday, saying he changed comedy, and "understood what a responsibility having this show every night for an hour means. And you have been a great caretaker of this time."

Finished Franken, with another small joke: "I just wanted to say that before you become a recluse."

"That means a great deal to me. I think the world of you senator," Letterman responded, while shaking his hand.

Franken on politics

Of course Franken, being a lawmaker, used the opportunity to talk politics as well.

The bit grabbing headlines is a conversation about the governor of Letterman's home state, Indiana, which is currently under scrutiny because of a religious freedom law.

Letterman wanted to know "what's going on" there, giving Franken a chance to talk about his views on LGBT rights, and the rights of businesses, saying there needs to be a "national law" saying employers and businesses can't discriminate against LGBT Americans the same way they can't discriminate against someone based on race or sex.

So Letterman asked, "What can I do now to make the governor feel uncomfortable?"

Franken's response, knowing current Sen. Dan Coates isn't running next year: "I think you should run [for the Senate]."

Which mostly got a shake of the head and a laugh from Letterman.

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