Francis Ford Coppola, a brilliant and mercurial director responsible for some of the greatest American films of all time, spent the ’70s crafting a string of unimpeachably great films. He then made wine and stuff for a couple of decades, and in 2011 received an honorary Academy Award, the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award—bestowed upon those whose “bodies of work reflect a consistently high quality of motion picture production.” Perhaps this honor was on the minds of the people who decided this year’s recipient of the Mark Twain Prize For American Humor, as the Associated Press reports that Eddie Murphy will receive 2015’s top prize for humor from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Murphy will receive the award during a ceremony October 18 at the Kennedy Center, which will be broadcast nationally, as it has been since its inception in 1998. Past honorees include such worthy names as Richard Pryor, Tina Fey, Carol Burnett, Bob Newhart, and Steve Martin. It has also been awarded to Jay Leno. In a statement, the Mark Twain Prize producers praised Murphy’s comedy career, the results of which include some of the most critically and commercially successful comedies of the ’80s. “He is truly a transformative comedian and humorist,” executive producer and likely Lil’ Abner villain Cappy McGarr said. “Like Mark Twain, he talks about provocative issues and he is really, really funny while doing it.”
Murphy has been hailed as a deeply influential comedian, and the Kennedy Center noted that he is the most commercially successful African-American actor in film history. Not mentioned in the Kennedy Center statement was any reference to Holy Man, The Adventures Of Pluto Nash, I Spy, Daddy Day Care, The Haunted Mansion, Norbit, Meet Dave, Imagine That, A Thousand Words, or Shrek The Halls. It’s cool, though—we can pretend the ’00s didn’t happen, because Murphy deserves the award for plenty of other things, including the following reminder that he does not care for white people.