United States

Comedian Kevin Hart Joins An Elite Group Honored With The Mark Twain Prize For American Humor

The award, which honors performers who have made a lasting impact on humor and culture, is presented annually and includes a bronze bust of Samuel Clemens.

Kevin Hart attends the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts 25th Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor presented to Kevin Hart, Sunday, March 24, 2024, in Washington. Photo: AP

Kevin Hart, who rose from the open mics and comedy clubs of his native Philadelphia to become one of his country's most recognizable performers, received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humour on Sunday in a gala performance at the Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts.

Celebrities and prominent comedians joined in the tribute to Hart, with several specifically citing the comic's work ethic, positivity and relentless dedication to his art.

 “He's just inspirational, said comic Nikki Glazer on the red carpet. ”He's one of the most naturally talented people I've met. But he also loves himself, which is not something you can say about every successful comic."

Comedic actor J B Smoove (Leon on “Curb Your Enthusiasm”) recalls a young up-and-coming Hart as almost problematically eager.

“Honestly, when he was first starting out, he was a pest,” Smoove said. “But he was always picking up pieces from here or there, always learning from people and never afraid to learn.”

The show kicked off with a high energy duet by Robin Thicke and Nelly.

Hart, 44, has honed a signature style that combines his diminutive height, expressive face and motor-mouth delivery into a successful stand-up act.

In Hollywood, Hart made his movie debut in the 2002 film “Paper Soldiers” and came to mainstream fame through a string of scene-stealing cameos in hits such as 2005's “The 40-Year-Old-Virgin.”

Hart's films have grossed more than $4.23 billion globally.

Now in its 25th year, the Mark Twain Prize annually honours performers who have made a lasting impact on humour and culture. Honourees receive a bronze bust of Twain, the iconic American writer and satirist whose real name was Samuel Clemens.

Mark Twain recipients are honoured with a night of testimonials and video tributes, often featuring previous award winners. Other comedians who have received the lifetime achievement award include inaugural recipient Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Whoopi Goldberg, Bob Newhart, Carol Burnett and Dave Chapelle.

Bill Cosby, the 2009 recipient, had his Mark Twain Prize rescinded in 2019 after allegations of sexual assault.