WASHINGTON — Comedian/talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres has been tapped by the Kennedy Center to receive this year’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Award will be presented Oct. 22 at a Kennedy Center event to be taped for later TV broadcast.
DeGeneres will be the 15th recipient of the popular honor presented at the center’s Concert Hall. A coveted ticket and a successful KenCen fundraiser, the event traditionally features a strong lineup of comedic talent eager to both praise and roast the recipient.
Time-honored format also includes video and film highlights of the recipient’s career, and presentation of a copy of an 1884 bronze portrait bust of humorist Samuel Clemens (Twain) by the center’s topper.
“The Kennedy Center is happy to recognize Ellen DeGeneres’ unique contributions to the world of comedy,” said chairman David M. Rubenstein. “Through her television programs, stand-up appearances, movies, and even commercials, her special brand of humor has allowed us to find hilarity in the mundane and has kept us laughing for years.”
Previous recipients of the Twain prize are Richard Pryor, Jonathan Winters, Carl Reiner, Whoopi Goldberg, Bob Newhart, Lily Tomlin, Lorne Michaels, Steve Martin, Neil Simon, Billy Crystal, George Carlin, Bill Cosby, Tina Fey and Will Ferrell.
DeGeneres called it an “honor” to receive the prize. “To get the same award that has been given to people like Bill Cosby, Tina Fey and Will Ferrell, it really makes me wonder… why didn’t I get this sooner?”