Eddie Murphy Gets Top US Humour Award

A star-studded lineup of comedians including Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, George Lopez, Kathy Griffin and Arsenio Hall honoured Eddie Murphy as an “American icon”, reports the Associated Press

The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts presented the comedian Sunday with the Mark Twain Prize, the nation’s top prize for humour.

The evening’s most emotional tribute came from “Saturday Night Live” alum Tracy Morgan, who received a standing ovation from the audience. He called Murphy his “comedic hero”.

Morgan survived a serious car crash last year that left him in a coma. Morgan said Murphy was the first person to call him on the phone and make him laugh after the tragic accident that killed a passenger in the limo and seriously injured two others

“He’s the reason I’m in comedy. He’s the reason I have a job. He’s the reason I have a career,” Morgan said.

At one point, Murphy offered a reminder of his willingness to do politically incorrect humour by offering some jokes about former Mark Twain award winner Bill Cosby, who was one of his “heroes,” but has been accused by various women of sexual misconduct.

Among the other SNL alumni who paid tribute to Murphy were Jay Pharoah, Kevin Nealon and Joe Piscopo.

“Some people are just blessed with talent, and with Eddie, it was just luck,” Nealon ribbed.

Nealon said Murphy saved SNL from slumping ratings in the 1980s, and he hoped he could also save the Kennedy Center from becoming the Trump Center.

“I can see the slot machines in the lobby,” joked Nealon, who starred with Murphy in “Daddy Day Care.”

Trevor Noah, who took over hosting “The Daily Show” in September, said he was introduced to the comedian after viewing of “Coming to America.”

“Eddie Murphy’s influenced almost every single comedian— especially of my generation. He did everything brilliantly,” Noah said, in an interview with The Associated Press. “He showed me a benchmark to aim for. He made me realize that there was a level of excellence to try and attain, and I still think I’m working at that ’til this day.”

Murphy called the prize a “tremendous honor,” but asked the center to clear up any confusion over the prize for future recipients.

“Actually, it’s an award, but they call it a prize,” he said. “Usually when there’s a prize, there’s money.”

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