After starring in one of the most revered sketch comedy series ever, Dave Chappelle is set for yet another iconic achievement: He has been chosen as the 22nd recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, the annual honor bestowed by the Kennedy Center to influential American comedians.
Chappelle -- whose short-lived, insanely successful Comedy Central series "Chappelle's Show" is already considered a television classic -- has been a comedy stalwart for several decades, though he's also stretched his acting muscles in high-profile dramas, including a key supporting role in Oscar winner "A Star Is Born." He won an Emmy in 2017 for an acclaimed guest-hosting stint on "Saturday Night Live," and took home another statuette in 2018 for his special "Equanimity."
"Dave is the embodiment of Mark Twain’s observation that ‘against the assault of humor, nothing can stand,'" said Kennedy Center president Deborah F. Rutter in a statement. "For three decades, Dave has challenged us to see hot-button issues from his entirely original yet relatable perspective."
Chappelle will be in some esteemed company when he accepts his prize later this fall. Last year's honoree was Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and other past recipients are 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), 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). (Bill Cosby had been awarded the prize in 2009, but it was rescinded in 2018 in the wake of his sexual assault trial and conviction.)
The comedian will be presented with his prize at a gala at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall in Washington, D.C. on October 27. The ceremony will then be broadcast on PBS on January 6, 2020.