David Letterman has won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, The New York Times reports. The former Late Show host will accept the award during a ceremony to be held October 22nd and broadcast at a later date.
"This is an exciting honor," Letterman said, before quipping: "For 33 years, there was no better guest, no greater friend of the show, than Mark Twain. The guy could really tell a story."
In a statement, Deborah F. Rutter, the president of the Kennedy Center, which gives out the Twain Prize each year, said, "For decades, David Letterman delivered comedy to America that was smart, authentic and, frankly, what many of us came to rely upon to elevate our spirits after a long day. Raise your hand if, like me, you shifted your bedtime because you didn't want to miss a moment of Dave on television lest you not be part of the conversation with friends and co-workers the next day."
The Mark Twain Prize was first awarded in 1998 to Richard Pryor. Previous recipients include Tina Fey, Will Ferrell, George Carlin, Steve Martin, Ellen DeGeneres, Carol Burnett and Eddie Murphy. Last year's recipient was Bill Murray.
Letterman left The Late Show in 2015, handing over the desk to Stephen Colbert. Since then, the comedian has participated in a handful of projects, including the climate change documentary series, Years of Living Dangerously. He also recently appeared at the 2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony to induct Pearl Jam.