Winners of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor of All Time - Part 2


This is part 2 of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor Winners of all time. If you missed the first 10 winners, make sure to check out our article from yesterday for the full list. Enjoy!

2008 - George Carlin

Bonnie [CC BY-SA 2.0]

Known for his black comedy, Carlin included many topics in his humor, including politics, psychology, religion, and basically almost anything taboo. He was able to transmit many of his reflections through his comedy and was considered one of the most influenctial stand-up comics. He received his Mark Twain Prize posthumously.

2009 - Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby [CC BY 2.0]

Though the star of The Cosby Show was awarded the prize in 2009, it was rescinded in 2018 after his sexual assault conviction. The Cosby Show was rated the number one show in America during the late 1980s and a spin-off sitcom, A Different World, wasn't late to follow after the great success.

2010 - Tina Fey

Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Like many comedians, Fey started her career by performing with The Second City, all the while trying to get hired as a writer for SNL, which she finally has. Following her success in the role she became SNL's first female head writer. She stayed in SNL until 2006, working as both a writer and a cast member. While working in SNL, she started creating the series 30 Rock that ran successfully between 2006-2013. She also went on to write and appear in multiple commercially successful movies.

2011 - Will Ferrel

Eva Rinaldi [CC BY-SA 2.0 ]

Ferrel, who got his break as a cast member on SNL, became part of the successful sketch show after a producer saw him performing in The Groundlings and asked him to audition. While there, he portrayed many characters and outstanding impresonations, including Alex Trebek and George W. Bush. After leaving SNL he participated in many comedic films and became known as a member of the "Frat Pack", a generation of leading Hollywood comic actors that emerged in the late 90s and the 2000s.

2012 - Ellen DeGeneres

Toglenn [CC BY-SA 4.0]

The hottest name in the TV talk show arena, DeGeneres started by performing stand-up comedy, including an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, where her "phone call to God" skit became her big break. She appeared in multiple comedic films until she got her own sitcom, Ellen. Following her coming out episode it seemed that her career ended, but to the contrary. DeGeneres launched her daytime talk show on 2003, which is at its 16th Season now, and still is one of the most successful shows on TV.

2013 - Carol Burnett

Dennis115 [CC BY 3.0 ]

Burnett started her career by performing in New York nightclubs until she got her big Broadway break with Once Upon a Mattress. She then moved on to television, where she participated in The Garry Moore Show among other television appearances. Following the success, she moved to the city of stars and The Carol Burnett Show was born. After 11 great years of the variety show, Burnett appeared in many television and film productions. In recognition of her contribution to the entertainment world, she received the Presidential Madel of Freedom in 2005.

2014 - Jay Leno

Lee Stranahan [CC BY 2.0]

Before Leno had his primetime talk show, he was doing stadn-up comedy for years and appearred in minor roles in television series and films. Since 1987, he became a regular substitute host for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. Following several conflicts around the role of the host of The Tonight Show, Conan O'Brien went on to take the position after Leno's retirment. In an attempt to keep Leno in NBC, the Jay Leno Show started. However, a controversy later led to the cnacellation of the show, and Leno came back to The Tonight Show, where he stayed until early 2014.

2015 - Eddie Murphy

David Shankbone [CC BY 2.0]

Murphy says he was inspired by the first recipient of the Mark Twain Award, Richard Pryor. After multiple years of stand up comedy, he became an SNL cast member, where he created some notable characters. He then went onto appearing in many comedy movies, earning himself multiple Golden Globe nominations. For his role in Dreamgirls, he even received an Acdemy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. For the younger readers, you might also recognize him as the voice of the Donkey in Shrek.

2016 - Bill Murray

Sachyn [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Another SNL allumni, Murray was also part of The Second City in Chicago. His performances in Saturday Night Live also earned him his first Emmy Award. Later, he branched into comedy films, starring in Tootsie, Ghostbusters, and Scrooged among many others. After ruling the comedy field, he went into doing some Drama, participating in movies such as Lost in Translation and St. Vincent.

2017 - David Letterman

Sarah E. Freeman [CC BY 2.0]

It is hard to believe, but Letterman started as an anchor and weatherman on the radio. But even doing that he was outstanding and full of carisma. He later moved to Los Angeles in pursuit of a career as a comedy writer. Following multiple successes, he caught the attention of people from The Tonight Show, where he later became a regular guest. In 1980 he got his own morning comedy show, from which the road to the Late Night with David Letterman was very short. The show ran for 33 years and he broke the record for the longest-serving late night talk show host in American television history.

2018 - Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Peabody Awards [CC BY-SA 2.0 ]

JLD started in comedy when performing in The Practical Theatre Company, which helped her get into SNL. But Saturday Night Live was not her "reaching to stardom" point. Her breakthrough came a few years later when she was cast as Elaine Bedes in the successful sitcom Seinfeld, that ran for 9 seasons. When the show ended, she went on to star in The New Adventures of Old Christine and later stepped into the role of Selina Meyer in Veep. Veep is still running and it seems that until it is over, she will keep on winning the Emmys year after year.