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The 13th Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor

Tina Fey

Tina Fey
2010 Prize Recipient

The Kennedy Center will present the 13th Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor to Tina Fey on Tuesday, November 9, 2010 at 8 p.m. The award, named to honor one of America’s – and the world’s – greatest humorists, will feature a lineup of the biggest names in comedy, and will be taped for television by WETA, and will be broadcast nationwide on PBS on November 14, 2010.

A lineup of top entertainers including Fred Armisen, Steve Carell, Jimmy Fallon, Jon Hamm, Jennifer Hudson, Jane Krakowski, Steve Martin, Seth Meyers, Lorne Michaels, Tracy Morgan, Amy Poehler, and Betty White will salute Tina Fey in the Concert Hall at the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize For American Humor. The evening will pay tribute to the humor and accomplishments of the popular writer, producer, actress and comedienne.

The broadcast is traditionally one of the most popular and critically acclaimed specials on television, and, each year, the show continues to grow in audience appeal. Guests will be invited to the Pre-Show Dinner at the Center and the Post-Show Reception with the artists immediately following the Presentation.

Special Access Packages are available at the $50,000; $25,000; $10,000; and $5,000 levels. Single tickets are $1,000 each.

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About Tina Fey

Tina Fey got her start with the renowned The Second City Improv Group in Chicago, joining a distinguished group of alumnus including John and Jim Belushi, Gilda Radner, Mike Meyers, just to name a few. She is currently Executive Producer, creator, and star of NBC’s three-time, Emmy Award-winning comedy series 30 Rock, which also holds the distinction of garnering the most Emmy nominations in a single season, of any comedy series in history. After only four seasons on-air, Fey’s portrayal of “Liz Lemon” has earned her an Emmy, two Golden Globes, four SAG Awards and a People’s Choice Award. Prior to creating 30 Rock, Fey completed nine seasons as head writer, cast member and co-anchor of the “Weekend Update” segment on NBC’s Saturday Night Live. Fey is an Emmy winner and three-time Writers Guild Award winner for her writing on Saturday Night Live, and won an Emmy last year for “Guest Appearance by an Actress in a Comedy Series” for her portrayal of Sarah Palin on the 2008-2009 season of SNL. In 2004, Tina Fey expanded to feature films as both a screenwriter and an actress in the hit comedy Mean Girls, which earned her a nomination for a Writers Guild Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Fey also had a cameo appearance in the Ricky Gervais comedyThe Invention of Lying and was a featured voice in the Disney animated film Ponyo. In 2008, Fey starred alongside Saturday Night Live‘s Amy Poehler in the film Baby Mama for Universal Pictures, which exceeded the $50 million dollar mark at the U.S. box office. Currently, Fey stars in the 20th Century Fox film, Date Night, opposite Steve Carell, which continues to succeed both at the domestic and international box office. Upcoming, Fey lends her voice as a lead character in the Dreamworks animated film Megamind along with Brad Pitt, Will Ferrell and Jonah Hill. Fey is currently working on a humorous memoir for Little Brown and Company for publication in 2011. Fey lives in New York with her husband, Jeff Richmond, and their daughter.

The Mark Twain Prize

As recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, Tina Fey will receive a copy of an 1884 bronze portrait bust of Mark Twain* sculpted by Karl Gerhardt (1853-1940). The bust and its images are courtesy of the Mark Twain House and Museum, Hartford, Connecticut.

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About the Mark Twain Prize

Portrait of Mark Twain

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 disciplines of the performing arts including opera, jazz, theater, ballet and dance, as well as symphony and all kinds of smaller musical ensembles performing every imaginable kind of music.

The proceeds from the evening’s event are used to support the Kennedy Center’s programs, performances and outreach. The event is created by the Kennedy Center, and executive producers Mark Krantz, Bob Kaminsky, Peter Kaminsky, and Cappy McGarr.

The Kennedy Center established The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in October 1998, and it has been televised annually. 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), Lorne Michaels (2004), Steve Martin (2005), Neil Simon (2006), Billy Crystal (2007), George Carlin (2008), and Bill Cosby (2009).

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History of the Mark Twain Prize

Richard Pryor

The first annual Kennedy Center Celebration of American Humor took place at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday, October 18 through October 20, 1998. The celebration included lectures, symposia, and master classes, and culminated in the Concert Hall on Tuesday, October 20, 1998 when Richard Pryor was presented with the inaugural Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize, named after one of the world’s greatest exponents of humor. The program featured a gathering of leading American artists including Chevy Chase, Morgan Freeman, Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Damon Wayans, and Robin Williams.

As a social commentator, satirist and creator of memorable characters, Samuel Clemens – the distinguished 19th century novelist and essayist also known as Mark Twain – was a fearless observer of society, who outraged many while delighting and informing many more with his uncompromising perspective of social injustice and personal folly.

The Kennedy Center, as the nation’s center for the performing arts, recognizes and presents all of the performing arts including opera, musical theater, drama, ballet and dance, as well as symphony and all kinds of smaller musical ensembles performing every imaginable kind of music. The Kennedy Center organized this “Celebration of Humor” and established the Mark Twain Prize to recognize those who create humor from their uniquely American experiences.

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Past Winners

George Carlin

    Billy Crystal

*© 2010. All Right Reserved.Licensed by the Mark Twain Foundation Trust. Authorized by CMG Worldwide, Inc

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