Dave Chappelle joins illustrious class for Mark Twain Prize for humor

Comedian Dave Chappelle will be the 22nd recipient of the annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
(Charles Sykes / Invision/Associated Press)

Groundbreaking comedian Dave Chappelle keeps racking up those awards: The comic’s latest is the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

The touring stand-up will be the 22nd recipient of the prize, which most recently has been awarded to Julia Louis-Dreyfus, David Letterman, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Jay Leno and Carol Burnett.

The prize recognizes individuals who have made an impact on American society in ways similar to Twain, the distinguished 19th-century novelist and satirist whose real name was Samuel Clemens.


“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 statement Tuesday.

“For three decades, Dave has challenged us to see hot-button issues from his entirely original yet relatable perspective. Dave’s a great guy and a hometown hero here in Washington, D.C., where he grew up. We’re so looking forward to welcoming him back home.”

The award continues Chappelle’s remarkable comeback after he abruptly retreated from public life in 2005 at the height of “The Chappelle Show’s” popularity. The incendiary star walked away from the Comedy Central series, which featured over-the-top parodies and politically incorrect themes, amid Season 3 production.

He resurfaced in 2013 and proved that he hadn’t lost any steam, later touring with the likes of John Mayer and Jon Stewart ahead of the 2016 presidential election, and earning his first Emmy Award in 2017 for hosting a highly rated episode of “Saturday Night Live.”

Chappelle, 45, took up a residency at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall in 2017 and quickly released a quartet of stand-up specials on Netflix. Their corresponding albums also earned him a second Emmy Award and two Grammy Awards for comedy album. Last year, he costarred in the Oscar-nominated musical “A Star Is Born.”


The quick-witted comic will be honored at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 27. The celebration airs on PBS on Jan. 6.

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