Dave Chapelle receives Mark Twain Prize for American Humor

Dave Chappelle with Mark Twain Bust_Mark Twain Prize 2019_Darrel R. Todd.JPG
Dave Chappelle with Mark Twain Bust_Mark Twain Prize 2019 (Courtesy: Darrel R. Todd)

WASHINGTON (SBG) - Funnyman Dave Chapelle was honored in his hometown Sunday with a lifetime achievement award for his contributions to comedy.

Reflecting on what he'd tell a younger version of himself trying to break into the business, Chapelle shared with Sinclair Broadcast Group on the red carpet before the star-studded event began on one of the biggest lessons he's learned.

I'm just a lover of the attempt. So many people are afraid to do something or try something great because they are afraid of failing. But just making an attempt is so triumphant," said Chapelle. "We don't know the results are for anything we do are going to be. We just, with our best intentions, put our best foot forward and we hope for the best."

"It's what makes comedy work, because it's all so ridiculous. So, it's just an honor to be here doing a job like this," said Chapelle.

The Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, billed as the nation's top accolade for comics, is given out annually by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Previous recipients include Eddie Murphy, Tina Fey, Bill Murray and Chapelle's hero Richard Pryor.

The provocateur's popular recent stand-up special practically dared his audience to cancel him, with jokes about LGBT people and abuse allegations against singers Michael Jackson and R. Kelly.

Saturday Night Live cast member Kenan Thompson, among those honoring Chapelle on stage Sunday, told Sinclair Broadcast Group that the biggest thing he's learned from the comedian is "never be afraid to speak your mind." Thompson said he's less about canceling people and more about sparking conversations, something he credits entertainers like Chapelle for doing through their work.

Chapelle appeared to relish in his politically incorrect reputation when he received the Mark Twain Award on stage later that evening, pulling out a cigarette to smoke on stage in his tuxedo.

"Hold on right here because I know they're going to edit some of this s*** out," Chapelle said during his acceptance speech.

"Dave Chappelle: The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize" will air Jan. 7, 2020, at 9 p.m. ET on PBS stations nationwide.

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