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Jay Leno to win nation's top humor prize in DC


By BRETT ZONGKER

WASHINGTON (AP) - Newly retired from "The Tonight Show," Jay Leno is now being awarded the nation's top humor prize for following in the tradition of satire and social commentary of Mark Twain, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced Wednesday.

Leno will be honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in a performance by his fellow comedians Oct. 19 in Washington. The show will be broadcast nationally Nov. 23 on PBS stations.

The award recognizes people who have had an impact on American society through their humor and social commentary.

"Like Mark Twain, Jay Leno has offered us a lifetime's worth of humorous commentary on American daily life," said Kennedy Center Chairman David Rubenstein in announcing the award. "For both men, no one was too high or too low to escape their wit, and we are all the better for it."

After learning about the prize, Leno said in a statement that he's honored and is a big fan of Twain's. He said "A Tale of Two Cities" is one of his favorite books. But apparently no one told Leno that novel was written by Charles Dickens.

Leno inherited the "Tonight Show" seat from the legendary Johnny Carson in 1992, beating out David Letterman, and was the top-rated late-night host for years. Letterman was the first between them to win the Kennedy Center Honors, but Leno was first to win the top humor prize. But Kennedy Center producers aren't weighing in on which man is funnier.

For years, Leno also has maintained a busy schedule of stand-up comedy appearances, testing his humor in nightclubs and theaters with more than 100 performances a year. He passed the "Tonight Show" mantle to Jimmy Fallon in February.

Since leaving NBC's late-night schedule, Leno has gained an international following online with his new creation, JayLenosGarage.com, about his obsession with cars. His YouTube channel now has more than 938,000 subscribers.

Cappy McGarr, one of the humor prize's executive producers, said Leno has been on the list of great comedians to honor for a long time. It wasn't a question of waiting until Leno retired, he said.

"Leno and Twain both have turned humor into a national conversation and a national conversation into humor, and I'm also quite confident they drove the same car," McGarr said Tuesday. "You know, we receive bad news every day, and it's important for us to keep our humor intact, as difficult as that might be. And thank goodness Jay has contributed to our American humor for a generation and made us keep things in perspective."

Recent winners of the Mark Twain humor prize include Carol Burnett, Ellen DeGeneres, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey and Bill Cosby.


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joyce liles June 19 2014 at 7:23 AM

I DON'T SEE HOW YOU CAN SAY LETTERMAN AND LENO IN THE SAME BREATH. LETTERMAN IS NOT FUNNY. HE SHOULD BE ON "HEE-HAW" . HE IS ALSO CONCEITED.
LENO IS FUNNY NATUARALLY AND A GOOD SENSE OF HUMOR. POWER HAS NOT GONE TO HIS HEAD, HE DESERVES THE HONOR. I MISS HIM. BE GLAD WHEN LETTERMAN GOES. HE HAS WASTED ENOUGH AIR TIME AND MINE.

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11 replies
PappyHappy June 19 2014 at 8:18 AM

In all candor, for the last five years, the occupant in the White House should be in stiff competition for the award! He has been the biggest joke!

Flag Reply +38 rate up
7 replies
mickilan June 19 2014 at 7:26 AM

Mr. Leno, we miss you.

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1 reply
jfcreel mickilan June 19 2014 at 1:34 PM

Yeah, he's a close second behind W !

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2 replies
dennis jfcreel June 19 2014 at 1:50 PM

To jfcreel. Have you noticed the lack of 'likes' for your narrow minded comments?

Flag +16 rate up
Rita Hayward jfcreel June 19 2014 at 6:46 PM

Do you typically "like" yourself? lol Pitiful. I see there aren't many that agree with you. Go find an appropriate site if you want to slam our President.

Flag +3 rate up
Patricia,,,,, June 19 2014 at 8:37 AM

Good for you Leno..I always liked your show...

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1 reply
dennis Patricia,,,,, June 19 2014 at 2:04 PM

Nicely said

Flag Reply +8 rate up
Beverly Doyle June 19 2014 at 7:11 AM

"After learning about the prize, Leno said in a statement that he's honored and is a big fan of Twain's. He said "A Tale of Two Cities" is one of his favorite books. But apparently no one told Leno that novel was written by Charles Dickens."

You don't suppose he DOES know and was simply making another joke? LOL doh

Flag Reply +28 rate up
6 replies
leslie June 19 2014 at 8:08 AM

I think Obama should get it! He's the biggest joke ever!

Flag Reply +26 rate up
5 replies
aatomicpunk June 19 2014 at 7:54 AM

I lke Jay Leno He is a genuine car guy

Flag Reply +22 rate up
dd1820 June 19 2014 at 6:16 AM

LOL.......TOO bad he wasnt funny..................

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1 reply
roborose2005 dd1820 June 19 2014 at 11:57 AM

No -- he's funny. Too bad you don't have a sense of humor.

Flag Reply +20 rate up
3 replies
Dick June 19 2014 at 6:13 AM

Excuse me!!!! He doesn't write his own stuff.....it is the writer's that are getting the short end of the stick here....as usual!!!!

Flag Reply +7 rate up
10 replies
tsr5112 June 19 2014 at 9:30 AM

I watched his show once after Johnny left. Nuff said!

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1 reply
Torromeo Family tsr5112 June 19 2014 at 8:40 PM

joke

Flag Reply 0 rate up
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