Will Ferrell has won the 14th Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, it was announced Thursday, which puts him in in some seriously funny company.
Previous Mark Twain humor prize winners, in reverse order, are Tina Fey, Bill Cosby, George Carlin, Billy Crystal, Neil Simon, Steve Martin, Lorne Michaels, Lily Tomlin, Bob Newhart, Whoopi Goldberg, Carl Reiner, Jonathan Winters and Richard Pryor, who took the inaugural award in 1998.
This Kennedy Center honor recognizes performers and writers who have influenced American society in the same spirit as novelist and essayist Twain, a.k.a. Samuel Clemens. "He revealed the great truth of humor when he said, 'Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand,'" the center said.
Sounds on the mark for the guy who made a name for himself on "Saturday Night Live" with a spot-on impersonation of President George W. Bush, has starred in films including "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" and "Elf," and co-founded the comedy website Funny or Die. More serious takes -- though with Ferrell, "serious" is always relative -- include "Stranger Than Fiction" and "Everything Must Go," which opens in limited release Friday.
The award will be presented in October in Washington, D.C.
-- Christie D'Zurilla
Photo: Will Ferrell in New York in April 2011. Credit: Victoria Will / Associated Press.