Since 1998, The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor has honored our nation’s comedians who have made a significant impact in the comedy industry. Using the term “industry” my sound like a bit of a downer, but ever since the vaudeville era, America has always adored their comedians and given them a platform to express their talents. In chronological order, the recipients have included Richard Pryor, Carl Reiner, Jonathan Winters, Whoopie Goldberg, Bob Newhart, Lily Tomlin, Lorne Michaels, Steve Martin, Neil Simon, Billy Crystal, and Geroge Carlin.
Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Phylicia Rashad, Malcolm Jamal-Warner, Willie Nelson, and a host of others will honor the 72 year-old comedian on October 26th. PBS will then air the special on November 4th.
Although Bill Cosby has acted on tad nutty in public appearances over the past couple years, he is undoubtedly one of the funniest people I’ve ever witnessed. I watched The Bill Cosby Show growing up and later got his albums …Is a Very Funny Fellow, I Started Out as a Child, Why Is There Air?, and Wonderfulness. His comedy primarily consisted of storytelling as opposed to using one-liners. It was always clean and silly, but it often contained a strong moral message he hoped Americans would take to heart. His influence is easily apparent in comedians like Jerry Seinfeld and Billy Crystal who can be observant and hilarious without being dirty.