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Eddie Murphy to Receive the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, 10/18

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts will present the 18th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor to Eddie Murphy on October 18, 2015 in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. The Prize, which is named to honor one of the world's greatest humorists, will be given at a gala performance featuring some of the biggest names in comedy, and will be taped for broadcast nationwide. Event tickets will go on sale through the Kennedy Center's Special Events Office on Monday, May 11.

Capital One® is the presenting sponsor of this year's Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, as part of the bank's five-year, $5 million gift to fund Comedy at the Kennedy Center, a signature program at the Center focused on elevating comedy as an art form and uniting the local community together through laughter. The co-chairs for the event are Teena Hostovich of Los Angeles, California and Kim Lawrie of Ridgefield, Connecticut.

The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor recognizes people who have had an impact on American society in ways similar to the distinguished 19th century novelist and essayist Samuel Clemens, best known as Mark Twain. As a social commentator, satirist, and creator of characters, Clemens was a fearless observer of society, who startled many while delighting and informing many more with his uncompromising perspective on social injustice and personal folly. He revealed the great truth of humor when he said "against the assault of laughter nothing can stand."

"We look forward to paying tribute to Eddie Murphy's important and lasting impact on American culture," said Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter. "Through his appearances on

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

April 9, 2015

Saturday Night Live, groundbreaking stand-up comedy, and work as a movie star, Eddie Murphy has shown that like Mark Twain, he was years ahead of his time."

Upon learning he will receive the Mark Twain Prize, Eddie Murphy commented, "I am deeply honored to receive this recognition from the Kennedy Center and to join the distinguished list of past recipients of this award."

Each year the producers of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor cast a wide net for the next recipient. The Prize recognizes people who have had an impact on American society in ways similar to Mark Twain. Input is sought from prior recipients, distinguished members of the comedy community, and letters from the general public. A short list is compiled by the Executive Producers and presented to a group comprised of representatives from the Kennedy Center board of trustees, and Kennedy Center senior management.

As recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, Eddie Murphy will receive a copy of an 1884 bronze portrait bust of Mark Twain sculpted by Karl Gerhardt (1853-1940). 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), Tina Fey (2010), Will Ferrell (2011), Ellen DeGeneres (2012), Carol Burnett (2013), and Jay Leno (2014). The event has been broadcast nationally every year since the Kennedy Center established the Prize in 1998. 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.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is America's living memorial to President Kennedy. It is the nation's busiest performing arts facility and annually hosts more than 2,000 performances for audiences totaling nearly 2 million; Center-related touring productions, television, and radio broadcasts welcome 40 million more. Now in its 44th season, the Center presents performances of music, dance, and theater; supports artists in the creation of new work; and serves the nation as a leader in arts education.

ABOUT EDDIE MURPHY

Eddie Murphy is the most commercially successful African-American actor in the history of the motion picture business, and is one of the industry's top-five box-office performers overall. Murphy is on the very short list of actors who have starred in multiple $100 million pictures over the past three decades, from Beverly Hills Cop to Daddy Day Care. He is also the voice of Donkey in the Oscar®-winning animated film Shrek and its sequel, Shrek 2, which is the top-grossing animated film of all time. Murphy won an Annie Award and earned BAFTA and MTV Movie Award nominations for his performance in the first Shrek, and reprised the role of Donkey in the final installment of the hugely successful franchise, Shrek Goes Fourth. Murphy began his career as a

stand-up comedian 25 years ago. In 1980, at the age of 19, he joined the cast of Saturday Night Live, and has since gone on to establish a successful career on the big screen. His films have been among the highest-grossing comedies in the industry, including 48 Hrs., Trading Places, Dr. Dolittle, Coming to America and the Beverly Hills Cop franchise. Murphy garnered Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Actor in a Comedy for his performances in Beverly Hills Cop, Trading Places and 48 Hrs. In 1989, Murphy made his directorial debut with Harlem Nights, a period comedy he also wrote and starred in, opposite Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx. In addition, Murphy starred in and produced the hit comedy Life co-starring Martin Lawrence, and starred opposite Steve Martin in the comedy Bowfinger. He was also the voice of Mushu the Dragon in the successful animated epic Mulan. In 2007, Murphy received rave reviews and critical acclaim for his portrayal of James "Thunder" Early in the Dreamworks film Dreamgirls, a performance which would garner him the Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture as well as earning him his first Academy Award nomination in the same category.

About Comedy at the Kennedy Center

Comedy at the Kennedy Center, funded through a $5 million gift from Capital One, builds on the Center's dedication to advancing comedy as an essential art form through events such as the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, engagements from major comedians on Kennedy Center stages, and free, monthly comedy nights on the Millennium Stage.

Photo Courtesy of the Kennedy Center



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