The legend himself, Bill Murray, is one of the most successful comedy icons to ever graduate from Saturday Night Live. The super-comedian and cultural icon, famous for his unique blend of juvenile glee and jaded sarcasm, is set to be even more firmly entrenched as a comedy star. Later this year, Bill will step up and receive the prestigious Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Prize for Humor. The SNL graduate and intergenerational name certainly deserves the award, as Bill Murray’s net worth in comic movies has been a staple in most American’s lives for decades.
The 65-year-old Murray will receive his honors on October 23 at the Kennedy Center. According to the Washington Post, Bill and other award recipients will participate in a made-for-TV program that will include several other comedians who will present the wards. The Kennedy Center has a tradition of hiring other comedians to present the awards and liven up the night with comments, and some roasts, directed at the recipients.
Established in 1998, the Twain Prize is named for the Missouri-born writer and satirist, Mark Twain. Twain’s accomplishments are probably too long to list, but among them are included incredible works of American cultural heritage like the novel Tom Sawyer. There have been many recipients of the award, and their likes include names like George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Bob Newhart, and Carol Burnett. Eddie Murphy himself was last year’s winner, and Eddie made headlines. Midway through his acceptance speech, Murphy began to perform a mocking impression of former Twain Prize winner Bill Cosby. At the time, news of Cosby’s habitual mistreatment of women was just making the rounds. Clearly, Eddie hasn’t lost his knack for timely, current comedy.
Murray himself was unavailable for comment, but did take time to release a statement on the event, reported by the Chicago Tribune. Bill was sure that Mark Twain wouldn’t be disturbed by his win.
“I believe Mark Twain has rolled over in his grave so much for so long, that this news won’t disturb his peace.”
The Kennedy Center’s President, Deborah F. Rutter, took it upon herself to praise Murray. Her statement is clearly thought out and heartfelt, and certainly makes it clear that Bill Murray, of all people, deserves this kind of award.
“His unique brand of humor seems to defy time itself – always remaining relevant and relatable to new audiences – much like our award’s namesake.”
Murray was born in Illinois, and his now illustrious career had humble beginnings. Bill first began to wow audiences with his funny ways as a member of SNL from 1977-1980. Murray’s stint on SNL included some of the funniest characters to ever feature on the show, including Bill’s part in the two-part “The Nerds” segment, which also featured Bill’s then-girlfriend Gilda Radner. It wasn’t until 1979 that Bill reached household name status, with his appearance in the film Meatballs. The comedy opened the gates for Murray, and he quickly dominated the comedy market with classics like Caddyshack, Stripes, and Ghostbusters itself. Despite his massive talent for comedy, that isn’t the end of Murray’s tricks.
Bill has played multiple dramatic and serious roles. Though these roles tend not to garner the same recognition as his comedic performances, they are nonetheless praiseworthy, and include such excellent films as Lost in Translation with Sofia Coppola, and his appearance on the HBO series Olive Kitteridge. Murray has also just reached a whole new audience with his recent appearance in Disney’s 2016 reboot of their classic Jungle Book film, in which Bill plays the characteristically laid-back bear, Baloo.
Murray still has a few tricks up his sleeve, and in recent years has entertained himself by making unexpected public appearances at all kinds of places. Bill’s quirky, comical and endearing behavior has included crashing college parties, bachelor parties, and even bartending for a night (where he served every customer tequila, no matter what they ordered). Murray’s exciting, unpredictable personal life has even spawned a website that tracks his public appearances, so fans can get a chance to party with the man himself.
[Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images for Laureus]