Jay Leno may have retired from The Tonight Show and handed the reins to fellow funny man Jimmy Fallon back in February, but he’s still known as being among the funniest people around. He will be awarded for his uncanny sense of humor–and deliverance of said humor–this fall when the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor is bestowed upon the comedian during an event in Washington, D.C. This is the nation’s top award for humor.
A performance by fellow comedians will take place on October 19th at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. It will be broadcast on PBS stations on November 23rd. The prize Leno will receive is given annually to those “who have had an impact on American society through their humor and social commentary.”
“Like Mark Twain, Jay Leno has offered us a lifetime’s worth of humorous commentary on American daily life,” Kennedy Center Chairman David Rubenstein said when he announced the recipient of the award. “For both men, no one was too high or too low to escape their wit, and we are all the better for it.”
After learning that his name was announced as the recipient of the prestigious prize, Jay Leno issued a statement saying he’s honored and is a big fan of Twain’s. He also said A Tale of Two Cities is one of his favorite books.
Ummm, Jay? A Tale of Two Cities was written by Charles Dickens–not Mark Twain. He must have been kidding–right?
Jay Leno bummed to hear Mark Twain awards ceremony not "Denim Tie" affair.
— Chris Regan (@ChrisRRegan) June 18, 2014
Jay Leno inherited The Tonight Show seat from Johnny Carson back in 1992, beating out David Letterman, and was the top-rated late-night host for years. Letterman was the first between them to win the Kennedy Center Honors, but Leno was first to win the top humor prize. Kennedy Center producers aren’t saying which of the two comedians and late night hosts they think are funnier.
For many years Leno also has kept an incredibly busy schedule of stand-up gigs. In fact he tests his humor in nightclubs and theaters with more than 100 performances a year.
Since leaving NBC’s late-night schedule, Leno has gained a huge international following on the internet with his new creation, JayLenosGarage.com, which highlights his love of cars. His YouTube channel now boasts more than 938,000 subscribers.
Congratulations to Jay Leno on receiving this prestigious honor. Now if only the former late night funny man would somehow find his way back to network TV–even occasionally–his fans would love him even more.
Image via Wikimedia Commons