When it comes to comedy awards, very few are esteemed quite like the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Considered to be one of the most prestigious accolades in the business, it's an honor most comedians dream of one day receiving. Just yesterday, Adam Sandler was announced as this year's winner, making him the 24th person to receive the award. Here's a closer look!
As noted by the Kennedy Center, the Mark Twain Prize "recognizes individuals who have had an impact on American society in ways similar to the distinguished 19th-century novelist and essayist Samuel Clemens, best known as Mark Twain." In an official statement, Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter explained the rationale behind the decision. "Adam Sandler has entertained audiences for over 3 decades with his films, music, and his tenure as a fan favorite cast member on SNL," she explained. "Adam has created characters that have made us laugh, cry, and cry from laughing."
Like many comedians, Sandler got his start on NBC's Saturday Night Live. In 1990, at the age of 23, he joined the cast and quickly grew his fan base through characters such as Canteen Boy and Opera Man. Most notably, he entertained audiences with his original musical performances about Thanksgiving and Hannuka. Despite his popularity, he and his partner Chris Farley were fired from the show in 1995. Although this would be the end for many, Sandler went on to establish himself as a brilliant comedian and successful movie producer, writer, and actor. Some of his greatest blockbusters include Grown Ups, Big Daddy, The Wedding Singer, and Billy Madison. He also flexed his dramatic acting skills in The Meyerowitz Stories and Hustle.
As the 24th winner, Adam follows in the footsteps of some of the greatest comedians in history. The impressive list includes Richard Pryor, Ellen DeGeneres, Whoopie Goldberg, George Carlin, Eddie Murphy, Tina Fey, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Last year's winner was Jon Stewart. The actual award, to be presented at the Kennedy Center on March 19, 2023, is a copy of an 1884 bronze Mark Twain portrait sculpted by Karl Gerhardt over eighty years ago. Until then, stay tuned. And congrats Mr. Sandler!