Playwright Neil Simon, author of Broadway fare ranging from “Barefoot in the Park” to “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” will receive this year’s Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize as a uniquely American humorist.
Simon, also a prolific and award-winning screenwriter, will be honored on Oct. 15 at a program featuring entertainers Jason Alexander, Richard Dreyfus, Nathan Lane, Cyndi Lauper, Robert Redford, Paul Reiser, Mercedes Ruehl and Jonathan Silverman, a Kennedy Center statement released Tuesday said.
The award “focuses on those who create humor from their uniquely American experiences,” the statement said.
The prize is named for the 19th century novelist, essayist and humorist Mark Twain — whose given name was Samuel Clemens — author of the classic novels “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”
The Kennedy Center celebration of American humor started in 1998 by honoring Richard Pryor. Other recipients are Jonathan Winters, Carl Reiner, Whoopi Goldberg, Bob Newhart, Lily Tomlin, Lorne Michaels and Steve Martin.
This year’s ceremony will air nationally on Nov. 20 on PBS television.