You’ve seen a lot of our next Mark Twain Prize for American Humor winner. Will Ferrell has probably logged more naked screen time than the previous 13 winners put together.
The Kennedy Center announced Thursday that the “Saturday Night Live” veteran — who became a leading man via raunchy Frat Pack comedies like “Anchorman” and “Old School” — will be their honoree this year at a star-filled tribute Oct. 23 that will be taped for TV.
“Will Ferrell is clearly one of his generation’s finest comedic performers,” stated Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein. But already, we’re anticipating a mild wave of blowback, similar to some of the criticism last year when the award went to Tina Fey -- specifically, that Ferrell, at 43, is too young for an honor that has typically gone to emeritus wits like Carl Reiner, Lily Tomlin and Bill Cosby.
Yet the Mark Twain Prize is, essentially, a fundraising opportunity for the Kennedy Center, and there’s a definite buzz factor in celebrating artists in their prime. (Get your tux ready, Seth Rogen -- your moment isn’t that far off.)
And, hey, Ferrell’s gotten his share of yuks. He spent seven years (1995-2002) as a cast member of “Saturday Night Live.” His films — “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby”, “Zoolander” — have, for the most part, been box-office churning chuckle-fests. And in 2009 his one-man comedy show, “A Final Night with George W. Bush”, was nominated for a Tony Award.
“I am truly honored to receive this distinction,” said Ferrell, in a press statement. “I will now begin cultivating a Mark Twain-esque moustache in anticipation of the event.”
Read also: “Everything Must Go” reviewed: Will Ferrell in dramatic role, 5/13/11
A few Ferrell highlights after the jump.
Updated 5 p.m.