WASHINGTON – Comedian and actor Bill Cosby was honored at the twelfth annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor Monday night at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
It was a star studded affair with the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock and Cosby’s television wife, Phylicia Rashad on hand to celebrate his prize.
Rashad said, “It’s well deserved, and it is a high honor cause it’s singular recognition.”
Cosby, who walked the red carpet with his wife, Camille and three daughters, was in rare form as usual, joking about the attention other stars were getting. He said, “It’s supposed to me about me, but as you can see, they’re cheering some other people. So, I just lost.”
Cosby’s humor was honed through the art of story telling he learned as a boy in Philadelphia from his grandfather. Like Mark Twain, who was a keen observer of society and outraged people while making them laugh and think; Cosby’s comedy often speaks to important and sometimes painful social issues.
Longtime friend and colleague, Rita Moreno said, “He tells it like it. I know that upsets a number of people, but on the other hand, he does speak the truth.”
Comedian Sinbad added, “some things need to be talked about there’s things that need to be dialogued about, and comedy is the best way to start it off.”
Though Cosby continues to make people laugh, he remains committed to social change. In recent years, he’s been accused of taking his commentaries too far, but Cosby says it’s important to ring the alarm.
He says, “Our young people are killing each other and how much longer do we wait to speak up and see what we can do about stopping that.”
Malcolm-Jamal Warner, who played Cosby’s television son on the “Cosby Show” says, “The social commentary has always been a big part of who he is. I think for me, there’s a certain level of integrity that he’s always stood for.”
Jerry Seinfeld adds, “He’s always making me try to do it better.”
Cosby, joins comedians George Carlin, Whoopi Goldberg and comedy writer Lorne Michaels … to name a few others in receiving the Mark Twain Prize..