Billy Crystal to Receive Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Prize for American Humor

News   Billy Crystal to Receive Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Prize for American Humor
Tony Award winner Billy Crystal will receive the tenth annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
Billy Crystal in 700 Sundays.
Billy Crystal in 700 Sundays. Photo by Carol Rosegg

The Kennedy Center will present Crystal with his award Oct. 11 at 8 PM in the Kennedy Center Opera House. The evening, which will feature a star-studded company, will be taped by WETA Washington, D.C., for nationwide broadcast in the fall on PBS.

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.'"

Crystal follows previous recipients Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, Jonathan Winters, Carl Reiner, Whoopi Goldberg, Bob Newhart, Lily Tomlin, Lorne Michaels and Neil Simon.

In a statement Kennedy Center Chairman Stephen A. Schwarzman said, "The Kennedy Center is pleased to give Billy Crystal the Mark Twain Prize for an extraordinary career. The work he has created for stage, film and television, has made an indelible impression. It is the work of not just a humorist but also a humanist."

Awards recipient Crystal countered, "To be given the same award as Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, and Neil Simon is a great honor. As my grandfather said, if you hang around the store long enough, once in a while they'll give you something!" Billy Crystal made his Broadway debut in 2004 in the solo show 700 Sundays, which garnered the actor Tony, Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk awards. His film and television appearances are numerous and have resulted in six Emmy Awards, six American Comedy Awards and seven Cable Ace Awards.

Tickets for the evening will go on sale Aug. 10 by calling (202) 467-4600 or (800) 444-1324. For more information, visit

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