Bill Murray was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor during an all-star fete at Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center, with friends and peers like David Letterman, Steve Martin, Jimmy Kimmel, Miley Cyrus, Aziz Ansari and Ghostbusters co-star Sigourney Weaver paying tribute to the actor.
“It’s nice to be here and, as much as I dreaded this, I really had to come back to this idea that there is love, and that’s ultimately what we came with and what we go with,” Murray told the Kennedy Center audience. “I love you and I love you. Let’s try to repeat that to each other, okay?”
Murray’s friends and co-stars joked about how the actor is notoriously difficult to get in contact with – “I think you and I are about as close as two people can be, considering that one of them is you,” Murray’s fellow SNL cast member Martin said in a video tribute – but that they still cherish his friendship.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, it was Letterman who delivered the most poignant Murray anecdote for the actor who appeared over 40 times on The Late Show. The former late-night host reminisced about how in 2003, he told Murray that he would be christening his then-infant son at a nearby church that weekend.
Within an hour, a handmade christening gown was delivered to Letterman’s office, a gift from Murray. “That Saturday, my son, in Bill Murray’s christening gown, was christened at St. Ignatius in Manhattan, and we have this memory, we have this gift, we have this gesture for the rest of our lives,” Letterman said.
Cyrus, who appeared with Murray in last year’s A Very Murray Christmas, had to re-do her “My Way” cover after messing up a few lyrics. “[Paul] Shaffer told me not to smoke too much before I was here,” she said (via Vulture). “But then I smoked too much and forgot.”
In Murray’s own speech, he thanked his older brother Brian Doyle-Murray for paving the way for his career in show business. “My brother had more guts than anyone I ever knew, and the only reason I’m here tonight is because of the guts of my brother Brian,” Murray said. “He’s been waiting a long time to hear that.”
In a red carpet interview with Extra, Murray said of the honor, “It’s a big deal. I’m not really processing it too well; I’m kind of dazed by it. It’s sort of like winning the lottery, or something incredibly lucky.”
Even luckier for Murray: His beloved Chicago Cubs advanced to the World Series for the first time since 1945 after winning Game 6 on Saturday. The win prevented a major conflict of interest for Murray, since Game 7 was scheduled for the same time as the Mark Twain Prize celebration.
The entire Mark Twain Prize ceremony will air this Friday on PBS.