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The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor has been awarded by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts annually since 1998. It is named after the 19th century novelist, essayist and humorist Mark Twain. The Mark Twain Prize is America’s foremost award for humor, presented annually by The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to an individual who has made a significant contribution to American humor. The prize is presented and taped in The Kennedy Center Concert Hall in Washington DC, during which the honoree is celebrated by his peers.
The first annual Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor was held on October, 20, 1998 and was presented to legendary comedian Richard Pryor. The first two years of The Mark Twain Prize (Richard Pryor and Jonathan Winters) were taped and broadcast on Comedy Central. Since then, the award presentations have been taped for broadcast on PBS.