Dave Chappelle to Receive Comedy’s Highest Honor from Kennedy Center

Previous recipients include Richard Pryor, Whoopi Goldberg and Will Ferrell

Dave Chappelle
Dave Chappelle will be honored by the Kennedy Center. (Kevin Mazur/ Getty)
By Ariel Scotti / May 8, 2019 10:50 am

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Beloved comedian Dave Chappelle has been chosen as the Kennedy Center’s next recipient of comedy’s highest honor, the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

“Dave is the embodiment of Mark Twain’s observation that ‘against the assault of humor, nothing can stand,'” Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter said in a press release. “For three decades, Dave has challenged us to see hot-button issues from his entirely original yet relatable perspective.”

It was Chappelle’s “trademark wit and sharp, irreverent social commentary [that] explores race, popular culture, sex, drugs, politics, and fame” at more than 1,600 shows around the world over the past four years that helped them arrive at their decision, the Kennedy Center said.

Chappelle also helmed his own Comedy Central program, Chappelle’s Show, from 2003 to 2006 and has appeared in numerous films and TV series, including last year’s Oscar contender A Star is Born and Spike Lee’s 2015 drama Chi-Raq. The comedian also held a residency at Radio City Music Hall in 2017 and has been nominated for Best Comedy Album at the Grammys each of the four times he recorded comedy specials. He won twice.

He will return to his native Washington D.C. for the star-studded ceremony — which will and will air on PBS in January 2020 — this October, CBS News reported.

Past recipients of the honor include Richard Pryor, Whoopi Goldberg, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Eddie Murphy, David Letterman and last year’s honoree, Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

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