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Jay Leno may no longer have his own show every night, but that doesn’t mean he’s leaving the spotlight. The former Tonight Show host has been picked as the latest recipient of the Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
The prize is presented annually to an American comedy legend in tribute to the great Mark Twain. Last year’s recipient was Carol Burnett, who was the third woman in the past four years to win the prize. Other recent honorees include Ellen DeGeneres, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Bill Cosby and George Carlin.
“What an honor!” Leno said in a statement, reports The Washington Post. “I’m a big fan of Mark Twain’s. In fact, A Tale of Two Cities is one of my favorite books!”
Twain Prize co-founder and co-executive producer Cappy McGarr said that Leno has always been on their wish lists of honorees. “He is the quintessential American humorist,” McGarr said. “He does it every night, and has done it for many, many years. And he truly is an equal opportunity satirist.”
While Leno has continued to perform standup, he’s best known for his long run on the Tonight Show. He first replaced Johnny Carson full-time in 1992 and kept the job until 2009, when he was briefly replaced by Conan O’Brien. He came back a year later, but retired from the show for good this year, handing the reins over to Jimmy Fallon.
The ceremony will take place on Oct. 19 in Washington DC and will air on PBS on Nov. 23.
image courtesy of ACE/INFphoto.com