Julia Louis-Dreyfus to receive Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Prize for Humor

WASHINGTON — “Get out!” Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who brought us such beloved TV characters as Elaine Benes and Selina Meyer, is slated to receive the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

The “Seinfeld” and “Veep” star will receive the 21st annual prize at a formal gala at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall on Sunday, Oct. 21, which will be broadcast nationally on PBS.

The annual event features some of the biggest names in comedy, who walk the red carpet and then provide on-stage tributes to the comedian, who watches from the balcony.

Past honorees 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Michaels (2004), Steve Martin (2005), Neil Simon (2006), Billy Crystal (2007), George Carlin (2008), Bill Cosby (2009; rescinded in 2018), Tina Fey (2010), Will Ferrell (2011), Ellen DeGeneres (2012), Carol Burnett (2013), Jay Leno (2014), Eddie Murphy (2015), Bill Murray (2016) and David Letterman (2017).

“Merely to join the list of distinguished recipients of this award would be honor enough, but, as a student of both American history and literature, the fact that Mr. Twain himself will be presenting the award to me in person is particularly gratifying,” Louis-Dreyfus joked.

As a recipient, Louis-Dreyfus will receive a copy of an 1884 Mark Twain bronze bust sculpted by Karl Gerhardt. The bust was memorably passed around the audience by Murray in 2016.

“Like Mark Twain, Julia has enriched American culture with her iconic, unforgettable, and outright hilarious brand of humor,” Kennedy Center president Deborah F. Rutter said. “Over four decades, her wildly original characters and her gift for physical comedy have left us in stitches. Julia is a role model for so many, and we look forward to honoring her on Oct. 21.”

The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor recognizes individuals who have had an impact on American society in ways similar to the distinguished 19th-century novelist, essayist, satirist and social commentator Samuel Clemens, best known as Mark Twain.

Ticket information will be available at a later date, but  sponsorship packages are on sale now.

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Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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