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Funny Man Jon Stewart Named Winner of Mark Twain Prize for Humor

FILE- Jon Stewart presents the Pat Tillman award for service on July 18, 2018, at the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles. Stewart has been named the 23rd recipient of the Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Award for lifetime achievement in comedy. (Photo by Phil McCarten/Invision/AP, File)
Jon Stewart Gets Mark Twain Prize for Humor
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American television star and political commentator Jon Stewart has been named winner of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

The award is presented by the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. It honors people who have influenced others in the field of the performing arts.

Stewart, whose birth name is Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz, is 59 years old. He rose to fame as a standup comedian and host of several talk shows. His popularity grew most after he joined The Daily Show in 1999. He hosted the satirical news program for 16 years on the Comedy Central television channel. Through exploration and sharply funny criticism of politics and culture, Stewart came to influence what many people thought about some issues in the United States.

In 2004, Stewart gained wide attention for an appearance on a CNN political debate show called Crossfire. The comedian said the hosts of the show, a conservative and a liberal, did not provide honest, productive arguments. He told the two men that they had a “responsibility to the public discourse” and were failing at it.

“You’re doing theater when you should be doing debate,” said Stewart in an openly hostile exchange with one host. “What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery.”

Stewart's appearance made him even more popular with the public than before. Crossfire was cancelled three months later.

Since retiring from The Daily Show in 2015, Stewart has become a supporter of several social causes. He is active in efforts to get better health care for emergency workers in New York City who responded to the 9-11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

More recently, he returned to television as host of The Problem with Jon Stewart on Apple TV+.

“For me, tuning into his television programs over the years has always been equal parts entertainment and truth,” Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter said in a statement. He “demonstrates that we all can make a difference in this world through humor, humanity, and patriotism,” she added.

Stewart will be presented with the award during a ceremony on April 24. The event will include speeches from other comedians and surprise guests.

I’m Mario Ritter Jr.

The Associated Press reported this story. Caty Weaver adapted it for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

comedian –n. a person who performs in front of other people to make them laugh by telling jokes and acting in a funny way

host –n. a person who talks to guests on a television or radio show

satirical –adj. relating to a form of humor that is meant to show that someone or something is fooling, weak or bad

discourse –n. the use of words to exchange thoughts and ideas

partisan –adj. a person who strongly support a group, leader or cause

hackery –n. the activity of producing a large amount of something that is not of good quality mainly to make money

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