The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor was created in 1998 by The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Mark Krantz, Peter Kaminsky, Bob Kaminsky and Cappy McGarr to recognize the art of humorists who have had an impact on American society in ways similar to the distinguished 19th century novelist and essayist best known as Mark Twain. As a social commentator, satirist and creator of characters, Samuel Clemens was a fearless observer of society, who startled many while delighting and informing many more with his uncompromising perspective of social injustice and personal folly. He revealed the great truth of humor when he said, “Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.” Those honored with the award are presented a copy of an 1884 bronze portrait bust of Mark Twain, sculpted by Karl Gerhardt (1853-1940). The bust and its images are courtesy of the Mark Twain House, in Hartford, Connecticut.
Along with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the creators and executive producers of the Mark Twain Prize are Bob Kaminsky, Peter Kaminsky, Mark Krantz, and Cappy McGarr. The WETA Washington, D.C., executive producer is Dalton Delan.