By DAVE ITZKOFF
Have you heard about this? Have you seen this? Jay Leno, the doggedly populist comedy monologist and former host of the “Tonight” show, will be the next recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, the prize’s organizers said Wednesday.
Mr. Leno, the standup comedian who took over the show from Johnny Carson in 1992, stepped down in 2009, came back in 2010 and stepped down again in February, will receive the prize at a gala ceremony to be held at the Kennedy Center in Washington on Oct. 19. It will be broadcast on PBS on Nov. 23.
David M. Rubenstein, chairman of the Kennedy Center, said in a statement that like the Mark Twain Prize’s namesake, Mr. Leno “has offered us a lifetime’s worth of humorous commentary on American daily life,” and that for “both men, no one was too high or too low to escape their wit, and we are all the better for it.”
Mr. Leno said in a statement, “What an honor! I’m a big fan of Mark Twain’s. In fact, ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ is one of my favorite books!”
Mr. Leno is the 17th recipient of the annual prize. Previous honorees have included Carol Burnett, Ellen DeGeneres, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey and Bill Cosby.