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Dave Chappelle, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock Pay Tribute to Kevin Hart at Mark Twain Prize Ceremony

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Kevin Hart was feted Sunday with the Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Prize in a traditionally raucous affair that drew praise and flak in equal measure from a handful of comedic colleagues on hand for the occasion. The ceremony will air later this year on Netflix as part of the streamer’s multiyear deal with the Kennedy Center event.

Previous Twain honoree Dave Chappelle was on hand to salute the multifaceted entertainer whose standup comedic talents are matched by his prowess as film actor, producer, restauranteur and beverage magnate. So was Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock and Tiffany Haddish, among other friends and fellow comedians.

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That extensive resume was ample grist for colleagues who trooped onto the Center’s Concert Hall stage as Hart and his family sat in a nearby box. The show concluded with the presentation of the award, a miniature Twain bust, by Kennedy Center chairman David Rubenstein.

Seinfeld led off the tributes with faux indignation about the favor he was delivering the honoree with his presence. He ended with earnest praise for Hart and his abundant talents. Jimmy Fallon followed, administering his salute in light-hearted song with guitar and black cowboy hat as distinctive props.

Rock ventured into political themes before lamenting of the honoree, “I gave him advice and he became a bigger star than me!” Chelsea Handler stepped out to praise Hart for his pluck and “for showing up when it matters.” Actress Regina Hall reprised her extensive experiences as co-star with Hart on films including “About Last Night.”

Others on hand included rapper/comedian/actor Dave Hurd (aka Lil Dicky), rapper Nelly, the Plastic Cup Boyz (Hart’s sidekicks), comedian Keith Robinson and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” star J.B. Smoove.

In his lengthy remarks upon acceptance of the award, Hart issued heartfelt thanks to the participating artists, prominent members of his far-flung organization, and other chums who were not part of the evening’s bill. He emphasized the importance of relationship building to the success of careers, and praised his Philadelphia upbringing by his ever-diligent and caring mother.

Hart concluded his remarks by extolling a fundamental message from his parents while growing up as a child in Philadelphia: that he was a bright kid who could make good decisions in life. “I believed them. Some kids don’t get that,” he said of the message that he now imparts to his own children.

“Life is about making the right choices,” he said. Turning to his family seated in the box, he said, “There is no life in me without you.”

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