In a room of comedy legends and more at Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special in February, he was the star attraction. Now the man who brought Axel Foley and some much more to life is being honored by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Eddie Murphy will be the recipient of this year’s Mark Twain Prize For American Humor on October 18, it was announced today. “Through his appearances on Saturday Night Live, groundbreaking stand-up comedy, and work as a movie star, Eddie Murphy has shown that like Mark Twain, he was years ahead of his time,” said Kennedy Center chief Deborah F. Rutter on Thursday.
The Kennedy Center also said Murphy is “a fearless observer of society, who startled many while delighting and informing many more with his uncompromising perspective on social injustice and personal folly.”
“I am deeply honored to receive this recognition from the Kennedy Center and to join the distinguished list of past recipients of this award,” said the Beverly Hills Cop, Shrek and Dreamgirls star today. Murphy’s own comic hero Richard Pryor was awarded the Twain Prize, as was SNL EP Lorne Michaels. Other former SNL cast members to get the prize over its 18-year history includeTina Fey, Will Ferrell and Billy Crystal. Carol Burnett and Ellen DeGeneres have also received the award as did ex-Tonight Show host Jay Leno , who was the 2014 honoree.
The fall ceremony will be broadcast on TV at a later date – though whatever people fete Eddie with, its going to be hard to top Chris Rock’s magnificent intro at the SNL 40 show.