A star-studded lineup of the nation's top comedic entertainers will salute Burnett at a gala event at the famed DC venue Oct. 20. The evening will be filmed for broadcast Oct. 30 on PBS stations nationwide.
"From her television program and appearances, as well as her performances on Broadway and in film, Carol Burnett has entertained generations of fans with her vibrant wit and hilarious characters," stated Kennedy Center chairman David M. Rubenstein. "We are delighted to pay tribute to this unique and beloved entertainer."
Upon learning she will receive the Mark Twain Prize, Burnett remarked, "I can't believe I'm getting a humor prize from the Kennedy Center. It's almost impossible to be funnier than the people in Washington."
The Mark Twain Prize, according to press notes, "recognizes people who have had an impact on American society in ways similar to the distinguished 19th century novelist and essayist best known as Mark Twain. As a social commentator, satirist and creator of characters, Samuel Clemens was a fearless observer of society, who startled many while delighting and informing many more with his uncompromising perspective of social injustice and personal folly. He revealed the great truth of humor when he said 'against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.'"
As a recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, Burnett will receive a copy of an 1884 bronze portrait bust of Mark Twain sculpted by Karl Gerhardt (1853-1940). The event is created by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and executive producers Bob Kaminsky, Peter Kaminsky, Mark Krantz and Cappy McGarr.
Previous recipients include George Carlin, Billy Crystal, Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, Jonathan Winters, Carl Reiner, Whoopi Goldberg, Bob Newhart, Lily Tomlin, Lorne Michaels, Neil Simon, Tina Fey, Will Ferrell and Ellen DeGeneres.