Letterman joins a list of Twain Prize recipients that also includes Richard Pryor, Tina Fey, Carol Burnett, Ellen DeGeneres and, in recent years, Eddie Murphy and Billy Murray. Letterman wins the prize for his 30 years on late-night TV, during which he developed his characteristic deadpan humor as well as signature segments like nightly Top 10 lists and Stupid Human Tricks. The final episode of “Late Show With David Letterman” aired in May 2015.
The Mark Twain Prize is one of the two highest profile awards handed out by the Kennedy Center each year, along with the Kennedy Center Honors, which go to luminaries across all disciplines of the arts. The Twain ceremony in October will be part of a fall 2017 comedy slate at the Kennedy Center that will also include shows headlined by Whoopi Goldberg and Trevor Noah, as well as a couple of stints for Chicago troupe Second City.
The 20th Annual Mark Twain Prize will be handed out Oct. 22 in what is likely to be a starry gala ceremony at the Kennedy Center.