Eddie Murphy, who has kept a low profile in recent years, stepped back into the spotlight in February for the "Saturday Night Live" 40th anniversary special, and now he's set to be the center of attention as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced Thursday that he will receive the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. The Kennedy Center presents the prize each year to a comedian who has had an impact on American society. Murphy will receive the award at a star-studded event on Oct. 18 at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall in Washington, D.C.
"Through his appearances on 'Saturday Night Live,' groundbreaking stand-up comedy and work as a movie star, Eddie Murphy has shown that, like Mark Twain, he was years ahead of his time,” said Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter in a statement Thursday.
The gala will feature a slew of A-list entertainers who are expected to take part in a celebratory roasting of Murphy and a tribute to his greatest moments, according to Variety. "We look forward to paying tribute to Eddie Murphy's important and lasting impact on American culture," Rutter said in the statement.
Murphy, 54, joins such other former "Saturday Night Live" cast members who've received the prize as Will Ferrell, Billy Crystal and Tina Fey, as well as the show's producer, Lorne Michaels. Murphy joined "SNL" in 1980 at age 19 and became known for his impressions of James Brown, Buckwheat and many others. His many hit movies since leaving "SNL" in 1984 include "Beverly Hills Cop," "The Nutty Professor" and the animated "Shrek" films. Here are some of the funniest clips from Murphy's career:
Murphy offered his hilarious commentary on Abraham Lincoln's birthday and the Emancipation Proclamation in this "Weekend Update" skit on "SNL."
Murphy played James Brown in this classic "SNL" skit.
"Hi boys and girls, it's Mr. Robinson!"
In Murphy's this scene from the stand-up comedy film "Raw," he explains how men cracked the code on women.
"Buh-Weet Sings" was an "SNL" skit based on Murphy's memories of the Our Gang/Little Rascals comedy shorts. Murphy's Buckwheat became so popular and long-running that the show created a dramatic skit titled "Assassination of Buckwheat" dedicated to knocking the character off the show.
In "Beverly Hills Cop," Murphy played a Detroit police detective assigned to a murder case in Beverly Hills and having trouble adjusting to life there. The 1984 action comedy garnered an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay.
Murphy played all members of the Klump family in the 1996 fantasy-comedy "The Nutty Professor."