Comedian Dave Chappelle will be the 2019 recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has just announced.
“Dave is one of the truly original voices in comedy — the definition of a creative artist,” Matthew Winer, director of comedy and special programming at the Kennedy Center, said to NPR. “He’s a modern-day sociologist, skewering stereotypes, defying boundaries, and showing us that laughter can be a way to contextualize issues that we struggle to understand.”
Chappelle is in great company, as comedy greats such as Carol Burnett, Eddie Murphy and Whoopi Goldberg have all received the special honor. Stand-up Richard Pryor was the first to be recognized with the prize in 1998.
“Dave is the embodiment of Mark Twain’s observation that ‘against the assault of humor, nothing can stand,'” Deborah F. Rutter, president of the Kennedy Center, said in a prepared statement. “For three decades, Dave has challenged us to see hot-button issues from his entirely original yet relatable perspective.”
The prize will be awarded at a Kennedy Center gala on Oct. 27, 2019. A televised broadcast will air on PBS stations Jan. 6, 2020.
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Born and raised in Compton, California, Jessica Bennett began her career as an intern at The Oakland Post, and later, The Source Magazine. She went on to write for respected hip hop publications such as DJ Booth and Hip Hop DX before becoming the Urban Editor of pop culture website, Wetpaint.com. She joined Ebony as the Entertainment Editor August 2017. Bennett has interviewed such names as Vanessa Williams, Spike Lee, Tyra Banks, Forest Whitaker, Magic & Cookie Johnson and several others.