The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts will bestow comedian and actor Eddie Murphy with its 18th Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at a gala on Oct. 18, the center announced Thursday.
“We look forward to paying tribute to Eddie Murphy’s important and lasting impact on American culture,” said Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter in a statement.
The award honors people who have had an impact on American society in a similar way to 19th-century novelist Mark Twain. “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,” Rutter said.
Murphy, who joined the cast of SNL at age 19 in 1980, has had a diverse and successful career that has consisted of multiple $100 million films, such as Beverly Hills Cop, Daddy Day Care, and the Shrek movies. He’s also a revered a stand-up comedian, having starred in specials Raw and Delirious, and releasing a self-titled comedy album in 1982. “I am deeply honored to receive this recognition from the Kennedy Center and to join the distinguished list of past recipients of this award,” Murphy said.
Past honorees include Whoopi Goldberg, Steve Martin, Will Ferrell, Ellen DeGeneres, and Jay Leno.