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The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Awards The Eleventh Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor to George Carlin November 10, 2008 at 8 p.m.

Program to be broadcast nationally on PBS as WETA Washington, D.C.’s George Carlin: The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize

WASHINGTON, D.C.— The Kennedy Center will award the eleventh annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor to George Carlin on Monday, November 10, 2008 at 8 p.m. in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. The award, named to honor one of America’s—and the world’s—greatest humorists, will feature some of the biggest stars in comedy. The program, to be taped by WETA Washington, D.C. will air on PBS stations nationwide in February as George Carlin: The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize. Tickets for the event will go on sale to the general public on August 11, 2008.

“The Kennedy Center is pleased to present George Carlin with The Mark Twain Prize,” said Kennedy Center Chairman Stephen A. Schwarzman. “In his lengthy career as a comedian, writer, and actor, George Carlin has not only made us laugh, but he makes us think. His influence on the next generation of comics has been far-reaching.”

“Thank you Mr. Twain,” said Carlin. “Have your people call my people.”

George Carlin is a Grammy-winning American stand-up comedian, actor, and author, whose career has spanned more than fifty years. Carlin has released twenty-two solo albums and three New York Times best-selling books, which have sold over two million copies. The five-time Emmy nominated actor starred in an unprecedented fourteen HBO Specials and appeared in a wide variety of television and movie roles. He was the first-ever host of Saturday Night Live, and has appeared on The Tonight Show over 130 times.

As recipient of the Mark Twain Prize, George Carlin 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.

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

Proceeds from the evening are used to support the Kennedy Center’s artistic, education and outreach initiatives. The event is created by the Kennedy Center, and executive producers Mark Krantz, Bob Kaminsky, Peter Kaminsky and Cappy McGarr. Executive Producers for WETA are David S. Thompson and Dalton Delan of WETA Washington, D.C. and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

The Kennedy Center Celebration of American Humor was instituted as an annual event in October 1998. 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) and Billy Crystal (2008).

Tickets can be purchased in person at the Kennedy Center Box Office or charged by phone at (202) 467-4600 or toll-free at (800) 444-1324 for people calling from outside the Washington area.

For more information on the Kennedy Center, please visit


Tiki Davies (202) 467-4600
(202) 416-8442 (800) 444-1324 (toll-free) TT: (202) 416-8524

Amanda Hunter
(202) 416-8441

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