Dave Chappelle received the Mark Twain Prize for Humor for merit in October, but his admiration for the craft was evident throughout the ceremony that aired earlier this week. “We don’t shy away from the jokes. In fact, humor was our mode of survival,” he said. “The only reason I never got my ass whooped on these streets is because” others viewed him as “hilarious.”
From the DC Improv stage, Chappelle said he was touched to receive the award, in his expletive-filled, feather-ruffling way. “Man, I cannot tell you what it is like to get an honor like this in the very city I started from,” he began. “In fact, a little trivia for you: The first show in this very room, I was the first comedian on stage. It was me, a guy named Brian Regan, and some (lesbian) named Ellen DeGeneres.”
“We didn’t know she was gay back then. We were all trying to get (with her),” he continued.
After the laughter and applause for his DeGeneres remarks wound down, the stand-up offered an insincere apology. “Oh, I’m sorry, I thought this was a comedy club,” he said. “Ladies and gentlemen, this might be America’s last safe place to say what you feel like saying, and laugh at what you feel like laughing. This is sacred ground.”
In it he thanked writing partner and Chappelle’s Show co-creator Neal Brennan.
An outstanding lineup of entertainers gathered in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall to salute Dave Chappelle, recipient of the 22nd annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on October 27, 2019. The Prize, which is named to honor one of the world’s greatest humorists, was given at a gala performance featuring some of the biggest names in comedy.
Watch the clip below.
Neal Brennan’s speech.
Jon Stewart on Chappelle.
Sarah Silverman on Chappelle.