Dave Chappelle: The Mark Twain Prize

(Rochester, NY) – This dynamic, newly-reimagined PBS program honors comedian, actor, writer and producer Dave Chappelle, chronicling his extraordinary life and career through an intimate hybrid of documentary film and star-studded gala performance to celebrate his receipt of the 22nd annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Dave Chappelle: The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize, taped in October in Washington, D.C., the Kennedy Center Concert Hall and the DC Improv, airs Tuesday, January 7, 2020 at 9 p.m. on WXXI-TV.

The 90-minute special features a star-studded lineup of friends, admirers and entertainment industry colleagues paying tribute to the comedian’s humor and accomplishments. In a twist on the beloved annual event, this year’s broadcast shares raw, behind-the-scenes looks and insights with Chappelle and his friends. Participants include Neal Brennan, Michael Che, Common, Bradley Cooper, Morgan Freeman, Tiffany Haddish, Colin Jost, John Legend, Lorne Michaels, Q-Tip, Trevor Noah, Sarah Silverman, Jon Stewart, Keenan Thompson and others.

In his acceptance speech Chappelle said, “Standup comedy is an incredibly American genre. I don’t think any other country could produce this many comedians. And I don’t think there’s an opinion that exists in this country that is not represented in a comedy club by somebody…The First Amendment is first for a reason. Second Amendment is just in case the first one doesn’t work out.”

Chappelle is an internationally recognized stand-up comedian and actor whose trademark wit and sharp, irreverent social commentary explores race, popular culture, sex, drugs, politics and fame. Arguably the most-touring comic on the circuit, Chappelle has performed more than 1,600 concerts worldwide in the past four years.

Chappelle, who could always make people laugh, set ambitious goals for his art. As a 14-year-old student at Washington, D.C.’s Duke Ellington School of the Arts, he crafted his stand-up comedy act out of the realities of his life growing up black in the nation’s capital.

He was the mastermind behind the 2003 sketch comedy hit, The Chappelle Show —one of the highest rated programs on Comedy Central. The show went on to become the best-selling TV show in DVD history. His many feature film credits include Bradley Cooper’s A Star is Born, Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq, and Undercover Brother, You’ve Got Mail, Con Air, The Nutty Professor, Undercover Blues and Robin Hood: Men in Tights.

In 2017, Chappelle received his first Emmy Award® for his debut episode on Saturday Night Live. His memorable, panoramic monologue offered comic relief following the 2016 Presidential election. Chappelle celebrated his 30th year in comedy by releasing four highly anticipated stand-up specials on Netflix. Released on vinyl, they received Grammy Awards® for Best Comedy Album in 2018 and 2019, and one earned an Emmy for Outstanding Variety Special. In summer 2017, he took up residency at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, selling more than 90,000 tickets and performing 16 shows. Pollstar awarded Chappelle with Comedy Tour of The Year in 2014 and 2018.

The Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor recognizes individuals 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.”

Pictured: Dave Chappelle
Credit: Courtesy of Danny Clinch



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