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. 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. "He's the Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali of comedy," says Morgan, per the Hollywood Reporter.
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 says. 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. (Read more Mark Twain stories.)