Netflix to Telecast the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor Under New Multi-Year Deal

A year after it moved from its longtime PBS home to CNN, the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor is switching telecast partners again. Netflix has struck a multi-year deal with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to move the Mark Twain Prize event to the streamer.

The deal begins this year, with Kevin Hart honored at the ceremony. This marks the 25th anniversary of the Mark Twain Prize, and Hart will be recognized “for his extraordinary contributions to the genre and his impressive achievements across comedy, film, and television.” This year’s event takes placeat the Kennedy Center Concert Hall on Sunday, March 24, and will be taped to premiere on Netflix on Saturday, May 11 — as the Netflix is a Joke Fest takes place in Los Angeles.

More from Variety

Performers set for this year’s Mark Twain ceremony including Dave “Lil Dicky” Burd, Dave Chappelle, Jimmy Fallon, Tiffany Haddish, Regina Hall, Chelsea Handler, Nelly, Plastic Cup Boyz, Keith Robinson, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, and J.B. Smoove. Adam Blackstone is music director.

“We are delighted to announce our partnership with Netflix and continue the Center’s 25-year tradition of celebrating exceptional comedians like Kevin,” Kennedy Center president Deborah F. Rutter said in a statement. “The Mark Twain Prize, which annually brings the comedy community together to recognize comedic excellence and impact, aligns with Netflix’s standing as the eminent home for comedy programming. We’re excited to bring this spectacular night of tributes, roasts, and hilarity to Netflix.”

Comedy Central was the first network to run the Mark Twain Prize, in 1998 and 1999, before PBS took over from 2000 to 2022. CNN took it last year.

The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor “recognizes individuals who have had an impact on American society in ways similar to the distinguished 19th-century novelist and essayist Samuel Clemens, best known as Mark Twain. As a social commentator, satirist, and creator of characters, Clemens was a fearless observer of society, who startled many while delighting and informing many more with his uncompromising perspective on social injustice and personal folly.”

Previous recipients of Mark Twain Prize include Richard Pryor (1998), Jonathan Winters (1999), Carl Reiner (2000), Whoopi Goldberg (2001), Bob Newhart (2002), Lily Tomlin (2003), Lorne Michaels (2004), Steve Martin (2005), Neil Simon (2006), Billy Crystal (2007), George Carlin (2008), Bill Cosby (2009; rescinded in 2018), Tina Fey (2010), Will Ferell (2011), Ellen DeGeneres (2012), Carol Burnett (2013), Jay Leno (2014), Eddie Murphy (2015), Bill Murray (2016), David Letterman (2017), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (2018), Dave Chappelle (2019), Jon Stewart (2022) and Adam Sandler (2023).

Done+Dusted produces the Mark Twain Prize; David Jammy is exec producer. The 2024 Mark Twain Prize Gala is co-chaired by Barbara Goodman Manilow and Cappy McGarr. David M. Rubenstein is the Honorary Chair for the Mark Twain Prize.

The event was created by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Bob Kaminsky, Peter Kaminsky, Mark Krantz, and John Schreiber.

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.