Eddie Murphy Receives Mark Twain Prize For American Humor

Eddie Murphy

Actor Eddie Murphy reportedly received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor Sunday night.

The New York Daily News reports that the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts presented the 54-year-old Oscar nominee with the prestigious award during a star-studded ceremony.

According to the report, there was an extensive line-up of hilarious celebrities in attendance to pay tribute to Eddie Murphy.

Many of the people that paid tribute to the longtime actor and singer have admitted in the past that the Beverly Hills Cop franchise star was a huge influence for them and their careers.

Dave Chappelle

During a past interview with James Lipton for Inside the Actor’s Studio, comedian Dave Chappelle stated that making Eddie Murphy break character in the 1996 box-office hit The Nutty Professor was a monumental moment for him in his career.

“I remember when I said the ‘Who’s sucking…?’ line and Eddie was like doing Sherman [Klump] and he was drinking when I said it. And water shot out of his nose, and he said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry.’ I wasn’t expecting that and that was the best feeling, like, to make Eddie Murphy break character was very — to this day, man, forget the Emmy nomination. That was like — that was the best.”

Along with Dave Chappelle, some of the other comedians that were in attendance to honor Eddie Murphy included such longtime stand-up comics as Kathy Griffin, George Lopez, and Eddie’s longtime friend Arsenio Hall.

There were also quite a few rising stars and newcomers to the industry that were present — such as The Daily Show host Trevor Noah and former sitcom star Whitney Cummings.

In a June 2013 interview with Essence magazine, Trevor Noah (the South African comedian that would eventually take over The Daily Show hosting duties after Jon Stewart decided to leave) made it clear how he felt about Eddie Murphy.

Trevor Noah

Noah referred to Eddie as one of the legendary kings of comedy.

“The kings are indisputable. Richard Pryor, Cosby, for me personally I didn’t know of him before I started comedy… Eddie Murphy changed my view on the thing and I definitely look up to him as a comedic influence. Chris Rock in terms of the modern Black comedian and Dave Chappelle. Those are the guys that have laid the foundation and have moved the yard stick for all comedians, not just Black comedians.”

Comedians, actors, and actresses are apparently not the only ones that had admirable things to say about Eddie Murphy.

Deborah F. Rutter, the president of the Kennedy Center, issued a statement about Eddie receiving the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on the center’s official website.

“We look forward to paying tribute to Eddie Murphy’s important and lasting impact on American culture. Through his appearances on Saturday Night Live, groundbreaking stand-up comedy, and work as a movie star, Eddie Murphy has shown that like Mark Twain, he was years ahead of his time.”

By receiving the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, Eddie Murphy joins a growing list of notable A-list comedians, actors and actresses such as Carl Reiner, Steve Martin, Billy Crystal, Bill Cosby, Carol Burnett, Will Ferrell, Whoopi Goldberg and Bob Newhart.

Richard Pryor, one of Eddie Murphy’s admitted influences, was also a recipient of this prestigious award.

According to the New York Daily News, the broadcast of the award ceremony honoring Eddie Murphy will air November 23 on PBS.

[Image Credit: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images]