Dave Chappelle comedy special celebrating his Mark Twain Prize to air next week on PBS

On Tuesday, Jan. 7 at 9 p.m. ET, “Dave Chappelle: The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize” will air on PBS stations around the country, including Dayton’s ThinkTV, which can be found on channels 16 and 14.

The program is a reimagined comedy special paying tribute to comedian and local legend Dave Chappelle. In May of 2019, it was announced that Chappelle would be the recipient of the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

>> John Legend, Dave Chappelle make list of Grammy nominees again

The 90-minute special was originally taped back in October, where stars like John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, Aziz Ansari, Tiffany Haddish and Morgan Freeman paid tribute to their friend and fellow comedian.

This 90-minute special is a bit different from other tributes to past Mark Twain prize recipients in that this year’s special features a raw, behind-the-scenes look at Chappelle and his friends, recorded backstage during the live show and at a surprise pop-up appearance at the DC Improv.

>> PREVIOUS COVERAGE (Oct. 9, 2019): John Legend, Chrissy Teigen among celebrities to honor Dave Chappelle

Performers including Springfield’s John Legend and wife Chrissy Teigen, Bradley Cooper, Lorne Michaels, Q-Tip, Trevor Noah, Jon Stewart and Neal Brennan will salute Dave Chappelle at the 22nd annual Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019 at 8 p.m. The program will pay tribute to the humor and accomplishments of Chappelle.

>> Best celebrity sightings in Dayton in 2019

The program will air nationally on PBS stations on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020.


>> PREVIOUS COVERAGE (May 7, 2019): Dave Chappelle earns prestigious national humor award

Dayton’s favorite resident celebrity can add another big award to his resume.

Dave Chappelle, who lives just outside Yellow Springs, will receive the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, the annual honor bestowed by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Credit: Christopher Polk

Credit: Christopher Polk

Chappelle already has two Emmys and two Grammys.

>> Dayton celebrities who have won big in Hollywood

The Kennedy Center said Tuesday that it had chosen Chappelle as the 22nd recipient of the Mark Twain Prize, according to the New York Times.

Deborah F. Rutter, the Kennedy Center president, said in a statement: “Dave is the embodiment of Mark Twain’s observation that ‘against the assault of humor, nothing can stand.’ For three decades, Dave has challenged us to see hot-button issues from his entirely original yet relatable perspective.”

The prize is a bronze bust of Twain. Chappelle will formally receive the prize on Oct. 27 in a ceremony at the Kennedy Center in Washington.

Previous recipients of the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize are Richard Pryor (1998), Jonathan Winters (1999), Carl Reiner (2000), Whoopi Goldberg (2001), Bob Newhart (2002), Lily Tomlin (2003), Lorne Michaels (2004), Steve Martin (2005), Neil Simon (2006), Billy Crystal (2007), George Carlin (2008), Bill Cosby (2009; rescinded in 2018), Tina Fey (2010), Will Ferrell (2011), Ellen DeGeneres (2012), Carol Burnett (2013), Jay Leno (2014), Eddie Murphy (2015), Bill Murray (2016), David Letterman (2017), and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (2018).

>> Remember when Dave Chappelle photobombed couple’s engagement shoot?


From the Kennedy Center’s award announcement:

Chappelle was the mastermind behind the 2003 sketch comedy hit, The Chappelle Show — one of the highest rated programs on Comedy Central. The show earned three Emmy® nominations and went on to become the best-selling TV show in DVD history. Feature film credits include Bradley Cooper’s award-winning remake of A Star is Born, Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq, Undercover Brother, Screwed, Blue Streak, 200 Cigarettes, You’ve Got Mail, Woo, Half Baked, The Real Blonde, Con Air, Joe’s Apartment, The Nutty Professor, Getting In, Undercover Blues, and Robin Hood: Men in Tights. In 2000, Chappelle recorded his first hour-long special in Washington, D.C. for HBO, Dave Chappelle: Killin’ Them Softly. Chappelle’s second comedy special, Dave Chappelle: For What It’s Worth, was filmed in San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium and aired on Showtime in 2004. 

The past few years have been banner for Chappelle. In 2017, he received his first Emmy Award® for his debut episode on Saturday Night Live. His memorable, panoramic monologue was the comic relief the country needed following the 2016 Presidential election that reflected our nation’s deep racial divide. Chappelle celebrated his 30th year in comedy by releasing not one, but four highly anticipated stand-up specials on Netflix. The first two specials, The Age of Spin and Deep in the Heart of Texas, were released in March 2017. That summer, Chappelle took up residency at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, selling more than 90,000 tickets and performing 16 shows that included 58 guests representing the biggest names in comedy and music. He capped off the year by releasing the remaining two specials, Equanimity and The Bird Revelations on New Year’s Eve. All four specials were delivered on vinyl as double-feature albums and received Grammy Awards® for Best Comedy Album in 2018 and 2019. Pollstar awarded Chappelle with Comedy Tour of The Year in 2014 and 2018 and he captured his second Emmy® for Outstanding Variety Special with Equanimity in 2018.

About the Author