WASHINGTON — The Kennedy Center has announced the talent lineup for next month’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor event to honor Eddie Murphy.
The 18th annual event will include Dave Chappelle, Whitney Cummings, Kathy Griffin, Arsenio Hall, Sam Moore, Kevin Nealon, Trevor Noa, Jay Pharoah, Joe Piscopo and Chris Rock, among others.
The program will pay tribute to the humor and accomplishments of Murphy and will air nationwide on PBS as “Eddie Murphy: The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize” on Nov. 23.
The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize focuses on the achievements of American comedic artists. The proceeds from the evening’s event are used to support the Kennedy Center’s programs, performances and outreach.
Murphy is a worthy recipient as a pioneer of stand-up comedy acts like “Delirious” (1983) and “Raw” (1987), not to mention legendary Buckwheat and Hot Tub sketches on “Saturday Night Live.”
He also happens to be the most commercially successful African-American actor in the history of movies, as well as one of the industry’s top-five box-office performers overall.
Murphy is on the short list of actors who have starred in multiple $100 million pictures over the past three decades, from “Beverly Hills Cop” (1984) to “Coming to America” (1988), from “The Nutty Professor” (1996) to “Shrek” (2001). Many pundits believe his closest shot to an Academy Award came in “Dreamgirls” (2006), but the flop of “Norbit” (2007) may have ruined those chances.
Either way, it’s a legendary career that split our sides in laughter.
As the recipient of the 2015 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, Murphy will receive a copy of an 1884 bronze portrait bust of Mark Twain sculpted by Karl Gerhardt (1853-1940). The bust and images of it are courtesy of the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, Connecticut.
As a social commentator, satirist, and creator of characters, Samuel Clemens — the distinguished 19th century novelist and essayist also known as Mark Twain — described the power of humor when he said, “against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”
The Kennedy Center Celebration of American Humor was instituted as an annual event in October 1998. Past recipients of the prize have included 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) and George Carlin (2008).