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The Kennedy Center

Julia Louis-Dreyfus 21st Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor celebrating Julia Louis-Dreyfus Tune in Monday, November 19 at 9/8c on PBS

With special appearances by:

Overview

Watch a Playlist of Mark Twain Prize Videos

Celebrating Julia Louis-Dreyfus

An outstanding lineup of entertainers gathered in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall to salute Julia Louis-Dreyfus, recipient of the 21st annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on October 21, 2018. The Prize, which is named to honor one of the world's greatest humorists, was presented at a gala performance featuring some of the biggest names in comedy. The event was taped by WETA Washington, D.C. and will air nationally on PBS on November 19, 2018 at 9:00 p.m. ET.

Under the direction of the creative team from Done + Dusted, the Kennedy Center’s new producing partner for the Twain Prize, the cast features many of Louis-Dreyfus’s admirers, friends, and collaborators, including Stephen Colbert, Bryan Cranston, Tina Fey, Ilana Glazer, Tony Hale, Abbi Jacobson, Jack Johnson, Keegan-Michael Key, Lisa Kudrow, Kumail Nanjiani, and Jerry Seinfeld.

In addition to honoring this country's greatest comedians, the Mark Twain Prize also serves as a major fundraising event—all contributions help support the Center's year-round educational and artistic initiatives that reach millions of students, educators, and families throughout the nation. The event is chaired by Amra and Damir Fazlic.

A Comedy Icon

Julia Louis-Dreyfus earned worldwide acclaim for her portrayal of Elaine Benes in the hit NBC series "Seinfeld," and as Christine Campbell in the CBS hit comedy "The New Adventures of Old Christine." She currently stars in, and executive produces, the HBO series "Veep," which will soon begin its seventh season.

Between all shows combined, she has received eleven Emmy awards (six consecutively for "Veep") with twenty-four nominations, a Golden Globe award, nine Screen Actors Guild awards which makes her the most decorated actor in the history of the SAG awards, three Television Critics Association awards, five American Comedy Awards, a Peabody Award, and the Charlie Chaplin Britannia Award for Excellence in Comedy. She has broken the record for the most Emmy's won by a single performer, as well as the most consecutive wins for a single role ("Veep").

Louis-Dreyfus received critical acclaim for her starring role in Fox Searchlight's "Enough Said," written and directed by Nicole Holofcener. Playing opposite the late James Gandolfini, Louis-Dreyfus earned a Golden Globe nomination for the role, making her one of the elite few concurrently nominated for both a film and television role.

Additional television credits include multiple appearances on "Curb Your Enthusiasm;" a recurring role on "The Simpsons;" and a recurring role on "Arrested Development," among many others. Louis-Dreyfus first made her mark on television during a three-year stint (1982-1985) on "Saturday Night Live," opposite the likes of Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Eddie Murphy. She subsequently hosted the show twice, becoming the first female former cast member to return as host. Feature film credits include Disney's "Planes;" Pixar's animated hit "A Bug's Life;" Woody Allen's Academy-award winning "Hannah and Her Sisters" and "Deconstructing Harry;" Rob Reiner's "North;" and Ivan Reitman's "Fathers' Day."

A steadfast defender of the environment, Louis-Dreyfus serves on the leadership council for the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), the Board of Directors of Heal the Bay, and the Honorary Board of Heal the Ocean.

She studied theater at Northwestern University, where she was a member of The Practical Theater Company, and Chicago's famed Second City comedy troupe. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, Brad Hall, and their two sons, Charlie and Henry.

Two Decades of the Mark Twain Prize

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 memorable characters, Samuel Clemens was a fearless observer of society, who startled and outraged 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 inaugural Mark Twain Prize was presented to Richard Pryor during the first annual Kennedy Center Celebration of American Humor, October 20, 1998. The event was created by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Bob Kaminsky, Peter Kaminsky, Mark Krantz, and John Schreiber and is televised annually. The Kennedy Center is grateful to Cappy McGarr for his steadfast support of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor since its inception. Previous recipients of the Mark Twain include 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, rescinded in 2018) Tina Fey (2010), Will Ferrell (2011), Ellen DeGeneres (2012), Carol Burnett (2013) Jay Leno (2014), Eddie Murphy (2015), Bill Murray (2016), and David Letterman (2017).

Past Recipients of the Mark Twain Prize

*Rescinded in 2018

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