Bill Murray Accepts Mark Twain Prize for American Humor

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Actor Bill Murray became the 19th person to receive the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at a star-studded ceremony in Washington on Sunday, where friends and colleagues paid tribute to his long comedic career.

In the ceremony at the Kennedy Center, Murray’s fellow Saturday Night Live alumni Jane Curtin and Bill Hader were among those who celebrated the actor’s achievements, along with musical performances by Miley Cyrus and Rhiannon Giddens, the Washington Post reported. Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman and talk show host Jimmy Kimmel paid homage to Murray’s eccentric personality, with Kimmel noting that, “To Bill, life is a party, the world is an improv stage, and we are all in his show.”

Murray, who has starred in classic comedies such as Groundhog Day and was critically acclaimed for his roles in Lost in Translation and St. Vincent, famously doesn’t have an agent or representation, and provides an 800 number for those who wish to send him scripts.

The award ceremony was well timed for Murray, a Chicago Cubs fan. “I’m glad they won last night so I could be here this evening,” Murray joked, the New York Times reports. “If they hadn’t won last night I would have had to have been there, because, honestly, I do not trust the media to report the story.”

At the end of the two-hour ceremony, Murray appeared on stage, telling the 2,400-person audience, “My theme tonight is what is it like to be beloved. It’s hard to listen to all those people be nice to you. You just get so suspicious.” The actor rounded off the evening on a sentimental note, saying “as much as I dreaded this, I really have to come back to this idea: There’s love. There’s love.”

The Mark Twain Prize honors the life and contributions of the world’s greatest comics, with previous winners including Ellen DeGeneres, Richard Pryor and last year’s winner Eddie Murphy. The gala performance and awards ceremony will air at 9 p.m. on Friday on PBS.

[Washington Post]

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