Kevin Hart, the acclaimed 44-year-old actor and comedian, is set to receive the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. This honor, marking him as the youngest recipient in over ten years, will be awarded at a special ceremony on March 24 at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.
The Mark Twain Prize, established in 1998 and first presented to Richard Pryor, is an accolade given to humorists whose influence mirrors that of Samuel Clemens, the renowned 19th-century author better known as Mark Twain. This award has been bestowed upon numerous celebrated comedians in recent years, including Bill Murray, David Letterman, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jon Stewart, and Adam Sandler.
Deborah F. Rutter, President of the Kennedy Center, praised Hart for his widespread impact on American humor through his unique characters, physical comedy, and relatable storytelling. She acknowledged his significant contributions to comedy as a writer, producer, actor, and comedian.
Hart, who will be the youngest recipient since Tina Fey in 2010 and Will Ferrell in 2011, also becomes the sixth Black honoree, joining the ranks of Richard Pryor, Whoopi Goldberg, Eddie Murphy, Dave Chappelle, and Bill Cosby (whose award was later rescinded). Hart expressed his gratitude and amazement at receiving the award, noting the significance of comedy in his life as a medium for social commentary and personal expression.
Looking Back on Kevin Hart’s Career
Raised in Philadelphia by a single mother, Hart’s early life was marked by his father’s struggles with addiction and legal issues. He began his career in entertainment with a role in Judd Apatow’s early-2000s Fox sitcom ‘Undeclared’ and later appeared in various comedies like ‘Soul Plane,’ ‘The 40-Year-Old Virgin,’ and ‘Death at a Funeral,’ as well as the Scary Movie franchise.
Hart’s box office success was solidified with the 2014 hit ‘Ride Along,’ a buddy cop comedy co-starring Ice Cube, which grossed over $150 million worldwide and led to a sequel in 2016. His collaboration with Dwayne Johnson in ‘Central Intelligence’ and the ‘Jumanji’ series further boosted his career, with their films grossing significant amounts globally. Hart’s films have collectively earned over $4.23 billion, as per the Kennedy Center.
In addition to his film success, Hart has recorded eight stand-up specials, including ‘What Now?’ in 2016, which was filmed before a massive audience in Philadelphia. This tour propelled him to become the world’s highest-paid comedian at the time, according to Forbes. His latest special, “Reality Check,” was released on Peacock in July.
Hart has also ventured into streaming series with ‘Die Hart’ and merged his entertainment businesses into Hartbeat, a comedy-centric company.
“To be honored in this commemorative year feels surreal. Comedy is my outlet for social commentary and observations on life—I am grateful to the Kennedy Center for recognizing my voice and impact on culture. I can’t wait to celebrate!” said Hart.