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Mac Norton <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 6 May 2001 19:22:29 -0500
TEXT/PLAIN (20 lines)
One denigrates the award, not those who have received it--though they
could decline.  Whoopi Goldberg, Carl Reiner, Jonathan Winters, and
Richard Pryor are all excellent humorists and gifted performers.  So, too,
Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl, Bob Newhart, George Carlin, and others.

Twain was a good deal more, as are, for example, Keillor and Woody Allen.
They perform(ed), mostly, their own work.  Unfortunately, so far the
winners of the Mark Twain Prize are only representative of a little bit of
Twain.  The Kennedy Center has had four chances to improve, and instead
has gone farther away from Twain at each opportunity.

The Prize is not about writing, else Charles Portis would have won it
already. It appears to be about comedic performance, principally of
the stand-up variety.  That was the least part of Mark Twain--though
I'll admit that if you asked him how he made his living he'd have
said it was the most part.  I just doubt that's the way he'd want
to be memorialized in a prize from a prestigious institution.