Entertainment & Arts

Jay Leno awarded Mark Twain Prize for humour

Jay Leno Image copyright AP
Image caption Leno retired in February after 22 years as host of The Tonight Show

Recently retired US chat show host Jay Leno is to receive this year's Mark Twain Prize for American humour.

The award, presented by the Kennedy Center, recognizes people who have had an impact on American society through their humour and social commentary.

Prize spokesman David Rubenstein said of Twain and Leno: "No one was too high or too low to escape their wit".

Leno will be presented with the prize at a ceremony on 19 October in Washington, DC.

The TV presenter retired from hosting The Tonight Show in February this year, after 22 years in the job.

He inherited the presenter's seat from the legendary Johnny Carson in 1992 and was the top-rated late-night host for years.

On learning of his prize, Leno said he was a fan of Twain's work - joking that A Tale of Two Cities, written by Charles Dickens, was one of his favourite books.

Cappy McGarr, one of the prize's executive producers, said Leno has been in his sights for a long time.

"Leno and Twain both have turned humour into a national conversation and a national conversation into humour, and I'm also quite confident they drove the same car," he said.

Recent winners of the Mark Twain humour prize include Carol Burnett, Ellen DeGeneres and Will Ferrell.

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