Mark Twain Prize for American Humor
|Mark Twain Prize John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts|
|Awarded for||American humor|
|Presented by||The Kennedy Center|
The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor is America’s foremost award for humor, and has been awarded by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts annually since 1998. It is named after the 19th century novelist, essayist and humorist Mark Twain and is presented annually to an individual who has made a significant contribution to American humor. The prize is presented and show is taped in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall in Washington DC, during which the honoree is celebrated by his or her peers.
Award history 
The first Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor was presented to comedian Richard Pryor on October 20, 1998. The first two years of The Mark Twain Prize (Richard Pryor and Jonathan Winters) were taped and broadcast on Comedy Central. Since then, the award presentations have been taped for broadcast on PBS.
In 2007, the Mark Twain Prize celebrated its 10th anniversary and presented the prize to Billy Crystal. For the first time in 10 years, the show was held in the Opera House of The Kennedy Center on October 11, 2007 and was broadcast on November 12, 2007 on PBS. The evening's presenters included Bob Costas, Robert De Niro, Danny DeVito, Jimmy Fallon, Whoopi Goldberg, John Goodman, David Letterman, Jon Lovitz, Rob Reiner, Paul Shaffer, Martin Short, Joe Torre, Barbara Walters and Robin Williams.
George Carlin died on June 22, 2008, just four days after the Kennedy Center announced he would be that year's honoree and at first, and commentators wondered whether there would be alterations to the presentation. After consulting with both Carlin's family and PBS, the ceremony took place as scheduled, with no major changes in the presentation format.
Bill Cosby, the 2009 recipient, accepted his award at the Kennedy Center on October 26, 2009., although he had twice refused the honor, stating that he was disappointed with the profanity used in the inaugural ceremony honoring Richard Pryor.
Recipients of The Mark Twain Prize 
- 1998 – Richard Pryor
- 1999 – Jonathan Winters
- 2000 – Carl Reiner
- 2001 – Whoopi Goldberg
- 2002 – Bob Newhart
- 2003 – Lily Tomlin
- 2004 – Lorne Michaels
- 2005 – Steve Martin
- 2006 – Neil Simon
- 2007 – Billy Crystal
- 2008 – George Carlin
- 2009 – Bill Cosby
- 2010 – Tina Fey
- 2011 – Will Ferrell
- 2012 – Ellen DeGeneres
See also 
- Bleep! Bleep! George Carlin To Receive Mark Twain Humor Prize – washingtonpost.com
- Itzkoff, Dave, "Bill Cosby receives Mark Twain Prize", New York Times (October 27, 2009)
- Farhi, Paul, "Twelfth knight: It's Cosby's time to claim the Twain prize", Washington Post (October 27, 2009)
- Finn, Natalie, "Tina Fey Celebrated for Being Hilarious", E! Online (November 9, 2010)
- Trescott, Jacqueline, "Ellen DeGeneres named Mark Twain Prize recipient", Washington Post (May 15, 2012)