updated 08/23/2011 AT 7:00 AM ET
•originally published 08/23/2011 AT 5:00 AM ET
Returning to the air Monday night for the first time since he received a death threat from a jihadist, David Letterman let fly with a barrage of one-liners that may not please the would-be terrorist but certainly got his audience laughing.
“We have a great audience night in and night out, but, honestly, tonight you mean a lot to me,” Letterman, 64, told the crowd inside the Ed Sullivan Theater as the host opened his Late Show monologue. “You people are more than an audience tonight, really. You’re more like a human shield.”
Letterman then blamed his slightly tardy arrival on the fact that he was backstage “talking to the guy from CBS. We were going through the CBS life-insurance policy to see if I was covered for jihad.”