President Joe Biden, sitting in the presidential box overlooking the ornate theater, received a standing ovation at Letterman's words from the crowd of Washington D.C. social heavyweights and members of Congress.
'It's quite nice once again to see the presidential box being occupied,' Letterman declared in opening remarks for the 44th annual show.
'And the same with the Oval Office,' Letterman added to laughs as the applause died down.
The Biden couple's attendance at the Honors on Sunday night marks the first time in four years a president has attended Washington D.C. 's premiere social event after Trump refused to go in the face of criticism from the honorees.
The first year he skipped, President Trump publicly asserted that he wished to avoid marrying the celebration with a 'political distraction' after some of the honorees threatened to boycott the awards if Trump attended.
However, the ghost of the past president didn't haunt the entire ceremony as a slew of famous faces paid tribute to the five artists being honored in the gala's return to in-person performances.
During the tribute to Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michael, 'Weekend Update' anchor Michael Che said: 'It’s a bit intimidating to do jokes in front of President Joe Biden' and then added: 'C'mon there’s no way he’s still awake right now.'
The camera panned to Biden, showing his presidential box, awake, laughing and clapping along.
Michaels was honored by Saturday Night Live alumni and present cast - including Kevin Nealon, Seth Meyers, Kristen Wigg, Amy Poehler, Kate McKinnon, Kenan Thompson, and Colin Jost - who paid tribute to his creation and his role in their careers.
She went on to declare that the arts are the 'most unifying force.'
In the taping of the show, which airs on CBS later this month, Letterman remarked it was not a night for politics, even as that topic was most prominently the underlying theme of the evening.