MANHATTAN — No more stupid human tricks.
Legendary New York City-based talk show host David Letterman, 66, told his show audience Thursday that he will retire in 2015, according to those present at the taping.
The famously ornery host has spearheaded the "Late Show" on CBS for the past 21 years, with memorable interviews with influential people ranging from Madonna to President Barack Obama.
At the Thursday afternoon taping, after the monologue Letterman started reminiscing about interviews he had over the years, building to the big announcement.
Fans in the audience couldn't believe what they were hearing.
"We were sitting there thinking is he really going to say what we think he's going to say?" Lindsey Burkee, 25, of California, said.
"He said he wanted to spend more time with his family," her husband, Chris Burkee, 30, said.
Others were thunderstruck by the announcement.
"I was waiting for the punch line. I feel like I saw some history tonight," Al Giesler, 44, of Georgetown, Texas.
"I just want to reiterate my thanks for the support from the network," Letterman said from behind his studio desk. "All of the people who have worked here, all of the people in the theater, all of the people on the staff, everybody at home, thank you very much. And, what this means now, is that Paul and I can be married."
The audience erupted into nervous laughter and his longtime sidekick, bandleader Paul Schaffer chimed in with bridal march music.
Letterman's retirement doesn't come as a surprise for the network. He was working on a one-year extension of his current contract, according to CBS president Les Moonves.
"For 21 years, David Letterman has graced our Network’s air in late night with wit, gravitas and brilliance unique in the history of our medium," Moonves said.
"During that time, Dave has given television audiences thousands of hours of comedic entertainment, the sharpest interviews in late night, and brilliant moments of candor and perspective around national events. He’s also managed to keep many celebrities, politicians and executives on their toes – including me. There is only one David Letterman."