Will Ferrell: The Mark Twain Prize


Updated Thu, Oct 20, 2011 2:22 pm

Will Ferrell: The Mark Twain Prize

Monday, Oct. 31, 9 p.m.

This October, The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize salutes Will Ferrell. The program airs on PBS stations nationwide. Taped at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on October 23, the 90-minute special features a star-studded cast of Ferrell’s friends and colleagues including top entertainers Ed Asner, Jack Black, Matthew Broderick, the band Green Day, Larry King, Adam McKay, Conan O’Brien, John C. Reilly, Paul Rudd, Maya Rudolph and Molly Shannon. The evening pays tribute to the humor and accomplishments of the television icon and motion picture star.

Raised in Irvine, California, Ferrell attended USC and graduated with a degree in sports information. Upon graduation, he worked as a sportscaster on a weekly show broadcast over a local cable channel. Soon after, he enrolled in acting classes and stand-up comedy workshops at a nearby community college and was eventually asked to join the esteemed comedy/improv group The Groundlings after just one year of training. It was at The Groundlings that Ferrell was discovered for Saturday Night Live.

Ferrell starred for seven seasons on Saturday Night Live. Some of his most memorable SNL characters include Craig the Spartan Cheerleader, musical middle school teacher Marty Culp, and President George W. Bush. Among his many impressions are Janet Reno, Alex Trebek, Neil Diamond and the late, great Chicago Cubs sportscaster Harry Caray. His work on SNL earned two Emmy nominations in 2001 (Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program, and Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program).

Ferrell’s film credits include The Other Guys, Megamind, Stranger Than Fiction (Golden Globe nomination), Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Zoolander, Elf, the Woody Allen feature Melinda and Melinda, Old School, and the screen adaptation of The Producers, which earned Ferrell his first Golden Globe nomination in 2006 for Best Supporting Actor. Ferrell’s latest project is set to star in the independent feature Everything Must Go, directed by Dan Rush. Based on a Raymond Carver short story, Ferrell portrays an alcoholic who has relapsed and in turn loses his wife and job.

Will Ferrell is the 14th recipient of The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Past recipients of the prize have been 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) and Tina Fey (2010).

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