Mark Twain Prize for American Humor

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Mark Twain Prize for American Humor
A bronze bust of Mark Twain on a pedestal
The award is modeled after this bust
Awarded forhaving "had an impact on American society in ways similar to" Mark Twain
CountryUnited States
Presented byJohn F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
First awarded1998
Currently held byJulia Louis-Dreyfus (2018)
WebsiteOfficial website

The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor is an American award presented by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts annually since 1998. Named after the 19th century novelist, essayist, and humorist Mark Twain, it is presented to individuals who have "had an impact on American society in ways similar to" Twain.[1] The JFK Center chose Twain due to his status as a controversial social commentator and his "uncompromising perspective of social injustice and personal folly."[1] A copy of Karl Gerhardt's 1884 bust of Twain is presented in an autumn ceremony taped in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall in Washington, D.C., during which the honoree is celebrated by his or her peers. The event is a significant fundraiser to benefit the Kennedy Center, which sells tickets as well as access to dinners and after-parties featuring the celebrities.

The inaugural recipient of the award was comedian Richard Pryor.[2] The first two years of The Mark Twain Prize (Richard Pryor and Jonathan Winters) were taped and broadcast on Comedy Central.[2] Since then, the award presentations have been taped for broadcast on PBS. The youngest recipient was actress and comedian Tina Fey, at age 40 in 2010.[3] Bill Cosby accepted his award at the Kennedy Center in 2009. He had twice refused the honor, stating that he was disappointed with the profanity used in the inaugural ceremony honoring Richard Pryor.[4] After Cosby was convicted of sexual assault in 2018, the center stripped Cosby of his award and his 1998 Kennedy Center Honors.[5] As of 2018, 20 individuals have received the honor, six women and 14 men.

Recipients[edit]

Year Image Recipients Notes Ref.
1998 Richard Pryor in 1986 Richard Pryor [6]
1999 Jonathan Winters in 1963 Jonathan Winters [7]
2000 Carl Reiner in 1960 Carl Reiner [8]
2001 Whoopi Goldberg in 2008 Whoopi Goldberg [9]
2002 Bob Newhart in 2002 Bob Newhart [10]
2003 Lily Tomlin in 2014 Lily Tomlin [11]
2004 Lorne Michaels in 2008 Lorne Michaels The only recipient to be born and raised outside of the United States
(Michaels is Canadian-American).
[12]
2005 Steve Martin in 2011 Steve Martin [13]
2006 Neil Simon in 1974 Neil Simon [14]
2007 Billy Crystal in 2018 Billy Crystal [15]
2008 George Carlin in 2008 George Carlin The only posthumous award, due to the timing of Carlin's death the same year.[16] [17]
2009 Bill Cosby in 2011 Bill Cosby Rescinded in 2018 due to sexual assault conviction.[18] [19]
2010 Tina Fey in 2010 Tina Fey [3]
2011 Will Ferrell in 2013 Will Ferrell [20]
2012 Ellen DeGeneres in 2011 Ellen DeGeneres [21]
2013 Carol Burnett in 2014 Carol Burnett [22]
2014 Jay Leno in 2008 Jay Leno [23]
2015 Eddie Murphy in 2010 Eddie Murphy [24]
2016 Bill Murray in 2018 Bill Murray [25]
2017 David Letterman in 2016 David Letterman [26]
2018 Julia-Louis Dreyfus in 2017 Julia Louis-Dreyfus [27]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for Humor". Kennedy-center.org. Retrieved June 25, 2014.
  2. ^ a b de Morales, Lisa (December 1, 2015). "TV One to repeat PBS's Mark Twain Prize ceremony honoring Eddie Murphy". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 2, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Tina Fey Celebrated for Being Hilarious | E! Online UK". Eonline.com. November 9, 2010. Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  4. ^ Itzkoff, Dave (October 27, 2009). "Bill Cosby receives Mark Twain Prize". The New York Times. Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  5. ^ "Bill Cosby's Kennedy Center Honors, Mark Twain Prize Revoked". Yahoo!. May 8, 2018. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  6. ^ Johnson, Allan (January 20, 1999). "Kennedy Center Honors Pryor with Initial Mark Twain Award". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  7. ^ "Jonathan Winters Wins Twain Prize". The New York Times. April 30, 1999. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  8. ^ The New York Times (October 26, 2000). "Carl Reiner Honored With Mark Twain Prize for Humor". SFGate. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  9. ^ Brennan, Patrick (November 18, 2001). "The Mark Twain Prize: Whoopi!". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  10. ^ "On Stage – The Mark Twain Prize 2002 – Bob Newhart". pbs.org. Archived from the original on November 24, 2018. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  11. ^ "On Stage – The Mark Twain Prize 2003 – Lily Tomlin". pbs.org. Archived from the original on November 24, 2018. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  12. ^ "'SNL' creator Michaels honored". Today. October 26, 2004. Archived from the original on November 24, 2018. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  13. ^ "The Kennedy Center Presents: The 2005 Mark Twain Prize Celebrating Steve Martin". pbs.org. 2005. Archived from the original on November 24, 2018. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  14. ^ Gans, Andrew (October 15, 2006). "Neil Simon Receives Mark Twain Prize for American Humor Oct. 15". Playbill.com. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  15. ^ "Billy Crystal: The Tenth Annual Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize". WETA. Retrieved February 28, 2016.
  16. ^ "George Carlin becomes first posthumous Mark Twain honoree". Yahoo! News. June 23, 2008. Archived from the original on June 28, 2008. Retrieved June 25, 2014.
  17. ^ Trescott, Jacqueline (June 12, 2008). "Bleep! Bleep! George Carlin To Receive Mark Twain Humor Prize". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  18. ^ "Kennedy Center rescinds Bill Cosby's Honors and Twain awards". The Washington Post. May 7, 2018.
  19. ^ Farhi, Paul (October 27, 2009). "Bill Cosby is awarded the Twain Prize for humor at the Kennedy Center". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  20. ^ Powers, Lindsay (December 5, 2011). "Will Ferrell to Receive Mark Twain Comedy Prize". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  21. ^ Jacqueline Trescott (May 16, 2012). "Ellen DeGeneres selected to receive Mark Twain Prize for American Humor". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  22. ^ Mary Daily, Carol Burnett: UCLA's class clown takes national honors, UCLA Today, October 22, 2013
  23. ^ Clark, Cindy (October 20, 2014). "Jay Leno honored with Mark Twain Prize". USA Today. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  24. ^ Falcone, Dana Rose (April 10, 2015). "Eddie Murphy to receive the Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Prize for American Humor". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  25. ^ McGlone, Peggy (October 23, 2016). "Bill Murray accepts Mark Twain Prize: 'As much as I dreaded this ... there's love'". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  26. ^ Itzkoff, Dave (May 16, 2017). "David Letterman Wins Mark Twain Prize for American Humor". New York Times. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  27. ^ Rao, Sonia (May 23, 2018). "Julia Louis-Dreyfus to receive the 2018 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 24, 2018.

External links[edit]