A news release from the Kennedy Center dated Tuesday, May 10, just arrived in my email box, announcing that the new Inspector Clouseau will be receiving this year's Mark Twain Prize. You'll be reading about it in the morning papers, I'm sure, but here it is (almost) in full. Be sure to mark your calendar for October 23:
WASHINGTON, D.C.— The Kennedy Center will award the eighth annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor to Steve Martin on Sunday, October 23 at 8 p.m. in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. The award, named to honor one of America’s—and the world’s—greatest humorists, will feature a star-studded ceremony that will be taped for broadcast nationwide at a later date. Tickets for the event will go on sale to the general public on August 10, 2005.
Martin, a Renaissance humorist, is an actor, comedian, author and playwright who has won any number of awards for his performances and his writing. Among his many films that he both wrote and starred in include Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, The Man with Two Brains, Roxanne, L.A. Story and Bowfinger. Other films he has appeared in include the blockbusters Father of the Bride, Parenthood, Cheaper by the Dozen and Bringing Down the House. He has had two plays produced Off Broadway: Picasso at the Lapin Agile and The Underpants, an adaptation of a 1911 play by Carl Sternheim. He has published two novellas Shopgirl and The Pleasure of My Company, as well as a collection of comic pieces entitled Pure Drivel. His work frequently appears in The New Yorker and the New York Times. . . .
"The Kennedy Center is pleased to give Steve the Mark Twain Prize for an extraordinary career," said Center Chairman Stephen A. Schwarzman, "His creations, be they on stage, on film or in a book, have created a collective memory of humor and joy for all Americans."
Upon learning that he had won the Mark Twain Prize, Martin remarked, "I think Mark Twain is a great guy and I can’t wait to meet him."
The Mark Twain Prize 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."
The Kennedy Center, as the nation’s center for the performing arts, recognizes and presents all of the performing arts including opera, jazz, musical theater, drama, ballet and dance, as well as symphony and all kinds of smaller musical ensembles performing every imaginable kind of music.
The proceeds of the evening are used for the Kennedy Center Education Department’s programs. As recipient of the Mark Twain Prize, Steve Martin will receive a copy of an 1884 bronze portrait bust of Mark Twain sculpted by Karl Gerhardt (1853-1940). The bust and images of it are courtesy of the Mark Twain House and Museum, Hartford, Conn. The event is a joint production of the Kennedy Center, Mark Krantz, Bob Kaminsky, Peter Kaminsky, and Cappy McGarr.
The Kennedy Center Celebration of American Humor was instituted as an annual event in October 1998. Recipients of the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize have been Richard Pryor (1998), Jonathan Winters (1999), Carl Reiner (2000), Whoopi Goldberg (2001), Bob Newhart (2002), Lily Tomlin (2003) and Lorne Michaels (2004).
Tickets will go on sale to Kennedy Center subscribers on Mon., Aug. 1 and to the general public on Wed., Aug. 10. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Kennedy Center Box Office or charged by phone at (202) 467-4600 or toll-free at (800) 444-1324 for people calling from outside the Washington area.