After returning from a two week vacation, David Letterman made his first television appearance on "The Late Show" since news of his death threats made headlines last week.
Letterman became the target of death threats from a frequent contributor of a jihadist website on August 16. The contributor asked the followers of the site if there was anyone who would "cut the tongue of this lowly Jew and shut it forever."
However, Letterman made light of the death threats on Monday and played them for laughs in his monologue, reports the Associated Press.
"Tonight you people are more, to me, honestly, than an audience - you're more like a human shield," he joked. "Backstage, I was talking to the guy from CBS. We were going through the CBS life insurance policy to see if I was covered for jihad."
He later continued, "A guy, a radical extremist threatened to cut my tongue out." Letterman then referred to his widely panned turn at hosting the Oscars in 1995 saying, "I wish I had a nickel for every time a guy has threatened (that). I think the first time was during the Academy Awards."
"And so now State Department authorities are looking into this," he added. "Everybody knows it's (Jay) Leno."
The late-night talk show host even continued the joke to his signature Top Ten List for the night, called "Top Ten Thoughts That Went Through My Mind After Hearing about the Threat."
Letterman, who the wire service notes is not Jewish, was targeted by the forum contributor after joking about a drone strike by the U.S. military in Pakistan that killed al-Qaida leader Ilyas Kashmiri on June 5.
The Site Monitoring Service, a private intelligence organization that watches online activity, said on Wednesday, August 17, the threat was posted a day earlier on the Shumukh Al-Islam forum, which the wire service notes is a popular Internet destination for radical Muslims.
The contributor identified himself on the site as Umar al-Basrawi. He wrote that Letterman had made reference to both Osama bin Laden and Kashmiri and said that Letterman had "put his hand on his neck and demonstrated the way of slaughter."
The Site Monitoring Service, part of the Site Intelligence Group, provides information to government and commercial clients on what jihadists are saying on the Internet and traditional media.
The FBI said last week that it was looking into the threat. On Monday afternoon, outside the taping of tonight's "Late Show" episode, a bomb-sniffing dog was led around the surrounding area of the Ed Sullivan Theater in midtown Manhattan, New York.
This is not the first time the late-night host has been the target of criminal threats. In 2009, a former CBS News producer tried to extort $2 million from Letterman by threatening to expose his affairs with members of his staff, the man was later jailed. A former painter at Letterman's ranch in Montana was jailed following a 2005 plot to kidnap the TV hosts nanny and son.