By Ruth Kinane
October 28, 2019 at 10:33 AM EDT

Congrats, Dave Chappelle!

On Sunday, the comedian accepted the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in his hometown of Washington D.C. The accolade is considered by many to be among the highest comedy honors, with previous recipients including the likes of Whoopi Goldberg, Lily Tomlin, Lorne Michaels, Steve Martin, Tina Fey, Will Ferrell, David Letterman, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Eddie Murphy.

“I love my art form because I understand every practitioner of it, whether I agree with them or not, I know where they’re coming from,” said Chappelle in his acceptance speech. “They want to be heard, they got something to say, there’s something they notice. They just want to be understood. I love this genre, it saved my life.”

ALEX EDELMAN/AFP via Getty Images

Comedians such as Tiffany Haddish and Sarah Silverman were on hand to pay tribute to Chappelle;  Haddish described him as “a mentor” and “big brother,”while Silverman said “his critical thinking is his art.” Murphy, who recently told EW that receiving the Mark Twain Prize in 2015 motivated him to get back to work, added via video tribute that Chappelle is “so much smarter than everyone.”

The ceremony honoring Chappelle will air Jan. 7 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS.

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