Receives Mark Twain Award for American Humor at Kennedy Center
On Sunday, Oct. 18, Dave Chappelle, Kathy Griffin, Arsenio Hall, Brittany Howard, George Lopez, Sam Moore, Tracy Morgan, Joe Piscopo, Chris Rock and other guests joined Eddie Murphy, honoring him as the recipient of the 18th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
The event took place in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. And the prize, named to honor one of the world’s greatest humorists, was given at a gala performance featuring some of the biggest names in comedy.
Upon learning that he would receive the Mark Twain Prize, Eddie Murphy said, “I am deeply honored to receive this recognition from the Kennedy Center and to join the distinguished list of past recipients of this award.”
In addition to honoring this country’s greatest comedians, the Mark Twain Prize also serves as a major fundraising event whose proceeds support the Center’s year-round educational and artistic initiatives.
Eddie Murphy is the most commercially successful Black actor in the history of the motion picture business and stands as one of the industry’s top-five box office performers overall. He has garnered a position on the very short list of actors who have starred in multiple $100 million pictures over the past three decades, from “Beverly Hills Cop” to “Daddy Day Care.”
Murphy began his career as a standup comedian nearly 40 years ago. In 1980, at the age of 19, he joined the cast of “Saturday Night Live,” going on to establish a successful career on the big screen. His films have been among the highest-grossing comedies in the industry including “48 Hours,” “Trading Places,” “Dr. Dolittle,” “Coming to America” and the popular franchise of films “Beverly Hills Cop.”
He made his directorial debut with “Harlem Nights,” a comedy in which he starred in and wrote.
In 2007, he earned several awards for his role as James “Thunder” Early in “Dreamgirls” including the Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture as well as earning him his first Academy Award nomination in the same category.
The prize, established in 1998, recognizes people who have had an impact on American society in ways similar to the distinguished 19th century novelist and essayist best known as Mark Twain. As a social commentator, satirist and creator of characters, Samuel Clemens was a fearless observer of society, who startled many while delighting and informing many more with his uncompromising perspective of social injustice and personal folly.
Past recipients include: Richard Pryor (1998), Jonathan Winters (1999), Carl Reiner (2000), Whoopi Goldberg (2001), Bob Newhart (2002), Lily Tomlin (2003), Lorne Michaels (2004), Steve Martin (2005), Neil Simon (2006), Billy Crystal (2007), George Carlin (2008), Bill Cosby (2009), Tina Fey (2010), Will Ferrell (2011), Ellen DeGeneres (2012) and Carol Burnett (2013).