Jon Stewart will receive the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ 23rd Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, the organization announced today. The award will be presented at a gala performance on Sunday, April 24, in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.
“I am truly honored to receive this award,” Stewart said in a statement. “I have long admired and been influenced by the work of Mark Twain, or, as he was known by his given name, Samuel Leibowitz.”
The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor recognizes individuals who have had an impact on American society in ways similar to the distinguished 19th-century novelist and essayist Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain. This year’s ceremony, the first since 2019 due to the pandemic, marks the 23rd year that the Mark Twain Award will be presented and broadcast nationally.
“For more than three decades, Jon Stewart has brightened our lives and challenged our minds as he delivers current events and social satire with his trademark wit and wisdom,” said Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter. “For me, tuning in to his television programs over the years has always been equal parts entertainment and truth. In these often divisive and challenging times, someone like Jon, through his undaunted advocacy for first responders and veterans, also demonstrates that we all can make a difference in this world through humor, humanity, and patriotism. He is most deserving of this award and I certainly cannot wait to hear the Concert Hall full of laughter again on April 24th.”
Previous recipients of the Mark Twain Prize 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Michaels (2004), Steve Martin (2005), Neil Simon (2006), Billy Crystal (2007), George Carlin (2008), Bill Cosby (2009; rescinded in 2018), Tina Fey (2010), Will Ferrell (2011), Ellen DeGeneres (2012), Carol Burnett (2013), Jay Leno (2014), Eddie Murphy (2015), Bill Murray (2016), David Letterman (2017), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (2018), and Dave Chappelle (2019).
The 23rd Mark Twain Prize for American Humor is under the direction of the creative team from Done + Dusted, the Kennedy Center’s producing partner for the Mark Twain Prize since 2018.