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Dave Chappelle to receive the Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Prize for American Humor

Photo: Rebecca Sapp (Getty Images for Backstage Creations)

Dave Chappelle has cautiously dipped his toe back into public life a few times in the last few years, after more or less disappearing when he quit his extremely lucrative and demanding Comedy Central show. Just since 2017, though, he hosted SNL, launched a handful of huge Netflix specials, held a Radio City Music Hall residency, sang “Creep” with Ed Sheeran, won some Emmys, and went on tour with Jon Stewart, all apparently in hopes of reminding us all that Dave Chappelle is, in fact, a pretty talented comedian. It’s fitting, then, that Chappelle is now set to receive one of the most prestigious honors that a pretty talented comedian can receive, with The Wrap reporting that he’ll be the 2019 recipient of the Kennedy Center’s Mark Twin Prize for American Humor.

In a statement, Kennedy Center president Deborah F. Rutter said:

Dave is the embodiment of Mark Twain’s observation that ‘against the assault of humor, nothing can stand.’ For three decades, Dave has challenged us to see hot-button issues from his entirely original yet relatable perspective. Dave is a hometown hero here in Washington, D.C., where he grew up. We’re so looking forward to welcoming him back home.


She presumably also intended to mention that the whole Rick James saga from the TV show was really good, but you can only say so much in one statement. Previous Mark Twain Prize winners include Julia Louis-Dreyfus, David Letterman, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, and Jay Leno. Chappelle’s award will be presented at an event on October 27, and it will air on PBS months later in January of 2020.

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