Comedian Carol Burnett has been selected by Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center to receive this year’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Award will be presented Oct. 20 at a kudofest to be broadcast on PBS stations Oct. 30.
Per its time-honored format, the event in its 16th year will feature gentle roasting by an entourage of adoring comics and video highlights from her extensive catalog. It will no doubt include priceless bits from “The Carol Burnett Show,” which ran on CB S for 11 years.
It will be held at the center’s Concert Hall, where Burnett will be able to view the antics from the safety of a box seat. The selection by the center represents the first member of comedy’s senior generation to receive the prize since Bill Cosby was honored in 2009. Since then, the award has been presented to Tina Fey, Will Ferrell and Ellen DeGeneres.
“The Twain prize honors individuals who possess a full body of work,” says Cappy McGarr, one of the event’s executive producers. “Carol has been on the list since the beginning, and you see her legacy every time you turn on the TV. Her influence can be seen on every slapstick and sketch comedy show, for example.” He also praised the legendary performer for her extensive film and Broadway career.
When informed that she would receive the price, Burnett quipped, “I can’t believe I’m getting a humor prize from the Kennedy Center. It’s almost impossible to be funnier than the people in Washington.”
Other previous recipients include Richard Pryor, Jonathan Winters, Carl Reiner, Whoopi Goldberg, Bob Newhart, Lily Tomlin, Lorne Michaels, Steve Martin, Neil Simon, Billy Crystal and George Carlin.