The Mark Twain Prize ceremony is broadcast on PBS every year. Created in 1998 by The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the prize recognizes the art of humorists who have had an impact on American society in ways similar to the distinguished 19th century novelist and essayist best known as Mark Twain (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer)
Ellen DeGeneres is the 15th recipient of the Mark Twain Prize. In this ceremony taped in 2012, comedians honor not only her wit, but what her coming out as a lesbian meant for America. Roasters include Kristin Chenowith, Steve Harvey, Jimmy Kimmel, Sean Hayes, John Leguizamo and more.
“I’m pretty darn sure I could not have the career I have, that I could not live as openly as I’ve lived, if it hadn’t been for you,” said Glee star Jane Lynch. “You really took one for the team” in revealing her sexuality on her first sitcom.
“She went from stand-up to standing for something,” said Lily Tomlin, herself a former Mark Twain recipient.
Filmed in 2014, the roast and toast of Jay Leno, former Tonight Show host, includes Jerry Seinfeld, Kevin Eubanks, Chelsea Handler, Seth Meyers, Garth Brooks and Wanda Sykes. See in a larger view.
Dave Chappelle, Kathy Griffin, Arsenio Hall, Sam Moore, Kevin Nealon, Trevor Noah, Jay Pharoah, Joe Piscopo, Chris Rock, and others salute Eddie Murphy at the 18th Annual Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize in 2015.
More recently, Eddie Murphy exchanged notes on acting in Dolemite is My Name (2019) with Antonio Banderas, who starred in Pain & Glory (2019) on Actors on Actors on PBS.
Celebrate beloved actor and comedian Bill Murray, in the 2016 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor presentation. From the stage of The John F. Kennedy Center, a star-studded lineup salutes the achievements of the comedic trailblazer.
Wait, theres more. “Im just an obnoxious guy who can make it appear charming, that’s what they pay me to do,” said Murray in a phone interview in October 1988. T.J. English was tasked with writing a profile of Bill Murray for Irish America magazine. PBS Blank on Blank illustrated the experience: