UPDATE: On Thursday (March 10), Gary Clark, Jr. was named music director for the presentation of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor to Jon Stewart. Artists set to pay tribute to Stewart include Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee and Olivia Munn, all of whom were featured on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart; Trevor Noah, Stewart’s successor as host of The Daily Show; Dave Chappelle, Stewart’s former Comedy Central colleague and the 2019 recipient of the Mark Twain Prize; as well as SNL star Pete Davidson and Jimmy Kimmel, host of Jimmy Kimmel Live!. The program will be broadcast on PBS on June 21 at 9 p.m. ET. David Jammy is executive producer.
Jon Stewart has been named as the 23rd recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. This year’s ceremony, the first since 2019 due to the pandemic, will be held on April 24 at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall in Washington, D.C.
Stewart’s characteristic dry wit was evident in the statement he released commenting on the award. “I am truly honored to receive this award,” he began. “I have long admired and been influenced by the work of Mark Twain, or, as he was known by his given name, Samuel Leibowitz.”
“For more than three decades, Jon Stewart has brightened our lives and challenged our minds as he delivers current events and social satire with his trademark wit and wisdom,” Kennedy Center president Deborah F. Rutter said in a statement. “For me, tuning in to his television programs over the years has always been equal parts entertainment and truth.”
The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor recognizes individuals who have had an impact on American society in ways similar to 19th-century novelist and essayist Samuel Clemens, best known as Mark Twain.
Stewart, 59, has long been considered one of America’s top social and comedic voices. Over the course of his 16-year run as host and executive producer of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, he redefined political satire in American culture.
Stewart has won 22 Primetime Emmy Awards, five Peabody Awards and two Grammys, among other honors. Stewart has twice hosted both the Grammy Awards (2001, 2002) and the Oscars (2006, 2008).
Stewart is also a dedicated social activist. His efforts played a key role in the passing of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Bill, which benefited thousands of first responders and their families. Stewart also works on behalf of America’s wounded veterans through initiatives led by organizations such as the Wounded Warrior Project and Team Rubicon.
Previous recipients of the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize are Richard Pryor (1998), Jonathan Winters (1999), Carl Reiner (2000), Whoopi Goldberg (2001), Bob Newhart (2002), Lily Tomlin (2003), Lorne Michaels (2004), Steve Martin (2005), Neil Simon (2006), Billy Crystal (2007), George Carlin (2008), Bill Cosby (2009; rescinded in 2018), Tina Fey (2010), Will Ferrell (2011), Ellen DeGeneres (2012), Carol Burnett (2013), Jay Leno (2014), Eddie Murphy (2015), Bill Murray (2016), David Letterman (2017), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (2018), and Dave Chappelle (2019).
The 23rd Mark Twain Prize for American Humor is produced under the direction of the creative team from Done + Dusted, the Kennedy Center’s producing partner for the Mark Twain Prize since 2018.
The event was created by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Bob Kaminsky, Peter Kaminsky, Mark Krantz, and John Schreiber.
Performance tickets to the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor performance will go on sale to Kennedy Center Members on Feb. 9 at 12 p.m., and to the general public on Feb. 11 at 12 p.m. Performance tickets will be available at the Kennedy Center Box Office, online at kennedy-center.org, and via phone through Instant Charge, (800) 444-1324.