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Julia Louis-Dreyfus Will Receive the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor

Julia Louis-Dreyfus poses with the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for 'Veep' during the 69th Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theatre on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.
Louis-Dreyfus double-fisting Emmys at the 2017 awards ceremony. AFP Contributor / Getty Images

Leading lady and legend Julia Louis-Dreyfus will be the 21st recipient of the Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, the Center announced Wednesday. The Veep and Seinfeld actress joins past recipients like Tina Fey, Will Ferrell, Ellen DeGeneres, Lily Tomlin, and Eddie Murphy. (Bill Cosby is also a past recipient, but his prize was rescinded by the board earlier this month.) Louis-Dreyfus is the sixth woman to receive the award since its 1998 inception. The prize first went to Richard Pryor, and David Letterman received it in 2017.


The awards ceremony will be broadcast nationally, according to a press release from the Kennedy Center: “The Prize, which is named to honor one of the world’s greatest humorists, will be given at a gala performance featuring some of the biggest names in comedy.” In the same announcement, Kennedy Center president Deborah F. Rutter compared Louis-Dreyfus’ work to that of the award’s namesake. “Like Mark Twain, Julia has enriched American culture with her iconic, unforgettable, and outright hilarious brand of humor,” Rutter said. “Over four decades, her wildly original characters and her gift for physical comedy have left us in stitches.”

A ceremony will honor Julia Louis-Dreyfus on October 21. The actress scored her first major role as a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1982 to 1985 and became a household name as Elaine in Seinfeld from 1989 to 1998. She most recently rekindled her comedic glory on HBO’s Veep, where her lead performance as Selina Meyer has earned her six consecutive Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.