Dave Chappelle Will Receive Comedy’s Most Prestigious Award

Dave Chappelle has won multiple Grammy and Primetime Emmy Awards during his incredible career as a comedian, actor, and writer. This October, the 45-year-old Washington, D.C. native is slated to collect the most prestigious honor available to a comedian. He will do so just miles from Silver Spring, Maryland, where Dave grew up. Chappelle is confirmed to receive the John F. Kennedy Center For Performing Arts’ Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

The prize puts Chappelle in the company of some of his influences, including Richard Pryor, George Carlin, and Eddie Murphy. Other past honorees include 2018’s winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus, as well as Carol Burnett, Jay Leno, Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, David Letterman, Tina Fey, and Will Ferrell, among others. Chappelle performed at Murphy’s 2015 ceremony. Peers somehow connected to Dave are expected to perform at the October 27 event, however, no names have been confirmed at this time.

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“Dave [Chappelle] is one of the truly original voices in comedy — the definition of a creative artist,” Matthew Winer, director of comedy and special programming at the Kennedy Center, told NPR. “He’s a modern day sociologist, skewering stereotypes, defying boundaries and showing us that laughter can be a way to contextualize issues that we struggle to understand.”

Chappelle’s honor comes during one of the most prolific and acclaimed points of his career. Since signing a $60 million deal with Netflix, Chappelle has delivered four specials, garnering him consecutive yearly wins at the Grammy Awards. Dave hosted SNL the week after the 2016 Presidential election. The former Half Baked lead has made a return to acting, including a dramatic role in the Oscar-nominated A Star Is Born as well as Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq. 2020 marks 15 years since Dave abruptly left the public eye and an eight-figure deal with Comedy Central at the height of Chappelle’s Show. Since 2013, Chappelle has returned to stand-up regularly.

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In his teens, Dave Chappelle performed comedy in Washington, D.C. nightclubs. Last year, during an episode of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee with host Jerry Seinfeld, Chappelle took the show cameras to his high school (Duke Ellington School Of The Arts), where he is now a donor providing opportunities to future artists. He gave his alma mater one of his recent Grammy trophies to put on display. Notably, one of Dave’s most revered specials, 2000’s Killin’ Them Softly, was taped at the District of Columbia’s Lincoln Theatre.

The October 27 ceremony will include a gala. The event will broadcast on PBS on January 6, 2020.