New York, 4 April 2012:The Comedy Awards,” Comedy Central’s annual event dedicated to honouring and celebrating the world of comedy, announced today that legendary comedian Don Rickles will be honoured as the recipient of the prestigious “Johnny Carson Award For Comedic Excellence” at this year’s ceremony.  “The Daily Show’s” Jon Stewart will present Rickles with the prestigious award.

“The Comedy Awards” will air on Comedy Central (DStv Channel 122) on 13 May at 20:30 CAT. 

The “Johnny Carson Award For Comedic Excellence” is presented annually in honour of iconic comedian and talk show host Johnny Carson, to an individual who embodies the same comedic excellence of the renowned and beloved comic powerhouse.  Rickles, who credits Carson for giving him his first big break and was a frequent guest and guest host on “The Tonight Show,” appearing over 100 times during Carson’s tenure, is being honoured for more than 55 years of outstanding work in stand-up comedy, paving the way for countless entertainers.  He is the second recipient of this award, following David Letterman, who was presented with the honour by Bill Murray at last year’s inaugural ceremony.

Rickles commented, “I’ve been blessed with many highlights in my career but guesting with Johnny Carson on ‘The Tonight Show’ was particularly memorable for me as they were more than just appearances, they became events.  Carson was Mr. Magic.  He always made me feel that my talent was something special.  To receive an award bearing Johnny’s name means everything to me as he will go down in history as the greatest in his field.”

The “Johnny Carson Award For Comedic Excellence,” the first and only award sanctioned by the Carson family, will be presented during the taping of the second annual “The Comedy Awards” at New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom on Saturday 28 April 2012.
 
As the host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show” for nearly 30 years, Johnny Carson became a beloved comedic icon and a welcome guest in the homes of generations of Americans.  His legendary career earned him the title “The King of Late Night,” propelling him to become one of the biggest names not only in comedy but in all of entertainment.  With such a respected position in the industry, the “Johnny Carson Award For Comedic Excellence” is an honour bestowed upon those that exemplify Carson’s generous, pioneering spirit and love of laughter.

It is fitting that Rickles will receive this special award, in its second year of existence, as one of Carson’s oldest friends.  Although it is difficult to pinpoint the exact moment of his breakthrough, Rickles believes the ball really started rolling on the night of 7 October 1965, during his first appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.”  His freewheeling performance that night became the talk of the show business industry and caused nationwide comment among the press and public.

Regarded as one of the world’s top entertainers, Rickles has appeared in top showrooms and concert halls across the U.S. and internationally.  He began his career in the early 1950s and quickly became known as an “insult” comedian for the way he would respond to hecklers in the audience and his undiscriminating way of making fun of people from all walks of life, leading to the monikers “The Merchant of Venom” and “Mr. Warmth” (coined affectionately by Johnny Carson).  With support from fan and friend Frank Sinatra, Rickles became a popular performer in Las Vegas, where he first started in 1959 and has been a headliner ever since.

Rickles has been featured in numerous movies, beginning with “Run Silent Run Deep,” which was his first film after graduating from The American Academy of Dramatic Arts.  He has graced the silver screen with many memorable roles since, including the cult-favourite “Kelly’s Heroes,” “The Rat Race” and, perhaps most famously, as casino manager Billy Sherbert in Martin Scorsese’s “Casino” and as the beloved “Mr. Potato Head” in Pixar’s “Toy Story” franchise.  He has appeared on numerous television series including Kathy Griffin’s “My Life on the D-List” and “Hot in Cleveland,” and has found success in the publishing world, having written two best sellers for Simon & Schuster.  Rickles continues to be very active on the stand-up comedy scene and is still a popular performer in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and other venues around the country.

“The Comedy Awards,” now in its second year, is dedicated to celebrating the art of comedy with an historic, one-night-only celebration honouring the most talented writers, directors, actors and stand-ups, who provided the laughter track to our lives this past year.  The ceremony will take place in front of a live audience at New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom on Saturday, April 28 and premiere on Comedy Central in Africa on 13 May 2012.

“Modern Family,” “Bridesmaids,” “30 Rock,” “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” and Louis C.K. lead the nominations for “The Comedy Awards”. Robin Williams has previously been announced as the recipient of the prestigious “Stand-Up Icon” award, which will be presented to him during this year’s ceremonies.  A complete list of the nominees for the digital categories can also be found at www.thecomedyawards.com and fans can vote for Best Viral Original on “The Comedy Awards” page on YouTube (www.youtube.com/ComedyAwards).  Click here to view a highlight reel from last year’s show.  Follow “The Comedy Awards” on Twitter @TheComedyAwards. For more information about ‘”The Comedy Awards”, go to www.thecomedyawards.com

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