Eddie Murphy receives top US humor prize at Kennedy Center

Eddie Murphy's Iconic Career


WASHINGTON (AP) — Eddie Murphy is trading places with Mark Twain.

The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is honoring the comedian, film star, producer and director Sunday evening with the nation's top prize for humor.

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A lineup of funny men and women including Dave Chappelle, George Lopez, Kathy Griffin, Arsenio Hall, Trevor Noah and Whitney Cummings will salute Murphy with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

Other performers include stars from "Saturday Night Live," where Murphy had an early break. Among the SNL alumni paying tribute to Murphy are Tracy Morgan, Chris Rock, Jay Pharoah, Kevin Nealon and Joe Piscopo.

See photos of Eddie Murphy on 'SNL' throughout his career:

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Eddie Murphy on SNL over the years
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Eddie Murphy receives top US humor prize at Kennedy Center
American musician Stevie Wonder (left) appears on an episode of 'Saturday Night Live' with comedian and actor Eddie Murphy, New York, New York, May 6, 1983. (Photo by Anthony Barboza/Getty Images)
Molly Shannon and Eddie Murphy, both SNL alumni ***EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE*** ***Exclusive*** (Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
American musician Stevie Wonder (left) appears on an episode of 'Saturday Night Live' with comedian and actor Eddie Murphy, New York, New York, May 6, 1983. (Photo by Anthony Barboza/Getty Images)
American musician Stevie Wonder (center) appears on an episode of 'Saturday Night Live' with comedians Joe Piscopo (left) and Eddie Murphy (right, and dressed as Stevie Wonder), New York, New York, May 6, 1983. (Photo by Anthony Barboza/Getty Images)
American musician Stevie Wonder (center) appears on an episode of 'Saturday Night Live' with comedian and actor Eddie Murphy (cener right, in straw hat), New York, New York, May 6, 1983. (Photo by Anthony Barboza/Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 4 -- Air Date 10/31/1981 -- Pictured: Eddie Murphy as Raheem Abdul Muhammed during 'SNL Newsbreak' on October 31, 1981 -- Photo by: Alan Singer/NBCU Photo Bank
American comedians Eddie Murphy (left), in costume as the character Dion, and Joe Piscopo (right), in costume as the character Blaine, perform a skit with musician Stevie Wonder on an episode of the television show 'Saturday Night Live,' New York, New York, 1983. (Photo by Anthony Barboza/Getty Images)
American musician Stevie Wonder (center) appears on an episode of 'Saturday Night Live' with comedians Joe Piscopo (left) and Eddie Murphy (right, and dressed as Stevie Wonder), New York, New York, May 6, 1983. (Photo by Anthony Barboza/Getty Images)
American musician Stevie Wonder (left) appears on an episode of 'Saturday Night Live' with comedian and actor Eddie Murphy, New York, New York, May 6, 1983. (Photo by Anthony Barboza/Getty Images)
American musician Stevie Wonder (left) appears on an episode of 'Saturday Night Live' with comedian and actor Eddie Murphy, New York, New York, May 6, 1983. (Photo by Anthony Barboza/Getty Images)
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The humor prize honors those who influence society in the tradition of Samuel Clemens, the writer and satirist known as Mark Twain. Past honorees include Jay Leno, Carol Burnett, Tina Fey, Whoopi Goldberg, Ellen DeGeneres, Will Ferrell, Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby.

Murphy gained national attention when he joined the SNL cast in 1980 at the age of 19. He went on to become the most commercially successful African-American actor in film history and one of the industry's Top 5 box office performers overall, the Kennedy Center said. Murphy's films have been among Hollywood's highest-grossing comedies, including "48 Hours," ''Trading Places," ''Dr. Dolittle" and "Coming to America."

The tribute will be broadcast Nov. 23 on PBS.

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