Jay Leno may have left his job as host of the, “Tonight Show,” earlier this year after more than two decades in front of the camera, but he’s still one of comedy’s funniest and most successful men. In fact, he’s being recognized as this year’s recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The announcement came yesterday, just four months after Leno stepped away from his role as host.
Always the funnyman, Leno responded to the news, “What an honor! I’m a big fan of Mark Twain’s. In fact, ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ is one of my favorite books,” he said deliberately confusing Twain with Charles Dickens. The award was created 16 years ago in 1998 in an effort to salute comedians that impact American society. Mark Twain, novelist and satirist, did the same for Americans in the 19th century and therefore the award was named after him.
Leno’s career began decades ago when he started touring night clubs and comedy houses, packing seats and generating enough laughs to land him his former gig as host the Tonight Show. His performance made the show late night’s highest-rated show for more than 20 years. After making the show a hit, Leno continued to tour night clubs and comedy clubs to perform for his fans, showing a dedication and love for the job. Even with his retirement from the desk, the show went on. It’s now hosted by funny man Jimmy Fallon.
The Mark Twain award will be presented to Leno on October 19th in Washington D.C. at the Kennedy Center. His acceptance of the award will put him in good company. Previous recipients include some of comedy’s finest, such as actors and comedians Billy Crystal, Tina Fey and Whoopi Goldberg.
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