Ed Asner looked handsome and aged in a simple tuxedo, his 82 year-old frame reinforced by a mahogany cane.  His wit remains nimble, unharmed by time, very much like the Santa he played in the movie Elf. A flatscreen jumbotron with a cartoon face in the left corner hovered high behind him on the stage at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. With his eyes squinting, a slight sweat beading from the lights above, Asner introduced the audience to a video clip of Will Ferrell, who that night was awarded the fourteenth Mark Twain Prize for Humor. mark20twain20caricature2016x9(Ferrell was, as he would later note himself, the eleventh Caucasian recipient of 14 total recipients.) Then he introduced them to Tim Meadows, also there to honor Ferrell. Meadows and Ferrell fortified a late 1990s cast of Saturday Night Live that preceded an era of pedestrian comedy on the 36 year-old show. Meadows too emerged with dapper flare: a black tux, his white shirt collar corralled by a black Windsor knot, the attention drawn to his face divided between thick-rimmed glasses and a less-salt-more-pepper goatee. The mostly middle-aged crowd–dressed in the kind of attire saved for weddings, state dinners, and evening affairs at the Kennedy Center–brought its brief applause to an end. “Wow…I know what you’re thinking,” Meadows deadpanned. “What’s Don Cheadle doing here?”

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