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Photo of Richard Pryor (Richard Pryor won the first Mark Twain Prize for Humor in 1998)

Richard Pryor

Richard Pryor statement: "I feel great about accepting this prize. It is nice to be regarded on par with a great white man – now that’s funny! Seriously, though, two things people throughout history have had in common are hatred and humor. I am proud that, like Mark Twain, I have been able to use humor to lessen people’s hatred!" Richard Pryor, born December 1, 1940 in Peoria, Illinois, is an especially apt choice for the first Kennedy Center Mark Twain Humor Prize. His irreverent comedic style shares with Twain the very attributes that made his work so attractive to everyone, regardless of age Pryor grew up in straightened circumstances, both morally and economically. His grandparents ran both a brothel and a pool hall.