Bill Cosby received the 12th Mark Twain Prize for American Humor last night at the Kennedy Center. On hand to honor him were comedians like Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, and Carl Reiner, along with musicians like Willie Nelson and Wyton Marsalis, playing jazz in a tribute to Cosby’s love of the music. Dick Gregory described him as the Jackie Robinson of television and comedy. Cosby premiered in the mid-60’s as a tennis playing agent “wearing white sneakers” on “I Spy”.
The crowd roared with laughter during old Cosby clips — from his appearances on old talk shows like the Jack Parr Show and Tonight Show talking about what it’s like to go to the dentist, to his TV role as Cliff Huxtable on the Cosby Show.
Seinfeld said there was no one else who influenced him like Cosby, calling him the greatest American comedian of all time. He said he owned every Cosby record and still listens to them.
The program, taped by WETA in Washington, D.C. as Bill Cosby: The Mark Twain Prize, will air on PBS stations nationwide November 4, 2009 (check local listings).
Watch some red carpet moments below… and read/watch more at the Washington Post. ..