He's still a goofball even when getting an award for it! Bill Murray cracks jokes and even pitches a baseball on the red carpet before being honored with the nation's top prize for comedy
- Bill Murray was presented with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center
- Dozens of celebrities praised the 66-year-old comic actor on Sunday
- The bearded David Letterman gave a heartfelt speech about the actor
- Jimmy Kimmel, Sigourney Weaver and Steve Martin ribbed Murray for being aloof, unpredictable and difficult to reach — yet still lovable
- Murray gave a touching acceptance speech before handing the award to a man in the first row of the audience and urged the crowd to pass it around
- On the red carpet, Murray had been cracking jokes, chatting to reporters and had pitched a baseball
- He joked that if his favorite team the Chicago Cubs had been playing, he would have skipped the award ceremony altogether
Bill Murray visibly squirmed as dozens of stars praised the famously private actor was honored with the nation's top prize for comedy on Sunday.
'It's really hard to listen to all those people be nice to you for two days,' Murray said, as he was presented with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center. 'You just get real suspicious.'
The comedian, known for living outside the Hollywood bubble, was on good form as he made his way down the red carpet, cracking jokes, chatting with reporters and even stopping to pitch a baseball.
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Bill Murray squirmed as dozens of stars praised the famously private actor as he was honored with the nation's top prize for comedy on Sunday
Murray, 66, was then joined by his family inside the Center for an evening filled with jokes about his elusiveness and quirky personality from the likes of Paul Shaffer, Sigourney Weaver and Aziz Ansari.
Miley Cyrus also performed a version of My Way during the ceremony.
But it was David Letterman who provided the most touching moment as Murray joined many of his fellow 'Saturday Night Live' alumni to win the annual award.
The bearded Letterman, who made a rare public appearance since his late-night show ended last June, gave a heartfelt speech about the actor.
Murray was a guest on Letterman's shows 44 times over the years, and the two grew close, even spending time together at Letterman's vacation home in Montana.
The comedian, known for living outside the Hollywood bubble, was in a good mood as he made his way down the red carpet, cracking jokes and even stopping to pitch a baseball
Video shows the 66-year-old comedian throwing a baseball down the red carpet after a reporter challenged him
It is lucky that Murray turned up at all. The Ghostbusters star said that if his team the Chicago cubs had been playing he would have been at Wrigley Field this evening
After an appearance in 2003, Letterman told Murray that his then-infant son would be christened that weekend. An hour later, Letterman said, a package was delivered to his office containing a handmade Irish linen christening gown.
'That Saturday, my son, in Bill Murray's christening gown, was christened at St. Ignatius in Manhattan, and we have this memory, we have this gift, we have this gesture for the rest of our lives,' Letterman said.
After he was presented with a bust of Mark Twain, Murray gave a touching acceptance speech before handing the award to a man in the first row of the audience and urged the crowd to pass it around.
'As much as I've dreaded this,' he said in his acceptance speech, 'I really have to come back to this idea that: There is love.'
There were plenty of laughs at Murray's expense in evening that took on the tone of a gentle roast.
Murray has been presented with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center
The comedian Bill Murray greeted fellow actor Sigourney Weaver as he arrived to receive the 19th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor
The famously elusive Murray chatted with the press on the red carpet as he made his way inside
Actor Bill Murray speaks to the press before receiving the 19th Mark Twain Award
Fans had also gathered outside to try and catch a glimpse of the veteran actor
Kimmel, Ansari, Weaver and Steve Martin were among those who ribbed Murray for being aloof, unpredictable and difficult to reach — and somehow still lovable.
'I think you and I are about as close as two people can be, considering that one of them is you,' Martin said in a video tribute, where he also revived Murray's old movie critic character from Saturday Night Live to mock some of Murray's movies including the much-maligned Garfield.
Even reaching out to the elusive comedian can be a challenge.
'He's the Irish El Chapo,' joked Jimmy Kimmel during the ceremony.
Meanwhile Jimmy Kimmel called Murray 'a man who travels around the world spreading foolishness and joy wherever he goes.'
He also joked about the comic's obsession with keeping all his friends and guests hydrated.
There were plenty of laughs at Murray's expense in evening that took on the tone of a gentle roast
After he was presented with a bust of Mark Twain, Murray gave a touching acceptance speech before handing the award to a man in the first row of the audience and urged the crowd to pass it around
Murray was joined by his family in the box at the award ceremony on Sunday
Outside the ceremony, Weaver described Murray as a 'pro' who just loved to have fun.
'If he's not having fun, he's not going to be doing it,' she said.
After getting his break on 'Saturday Night Live,' Murray went on to star in some of the most successful comedies of the 1980s and 1990s before transitioning into more dramatic roles. He was nominated for an Oscar for his soulful turn as a washed-up actor in Sofia Coppola's 'Lost in Translation.'
He's become a folk hero in the social-media era by turning up unannounced at wedding receptions, kickball games and house parties. He's also a regular at Chicago Cubs games and celebrity golf tournaments.
This weekend, he got to meet President Barack Obama. And what did the two men talk about? 'Putting,' Murray said before the show.
Murray lives in South Carolina, doesn't have an agent or a publicist and rarely does in-depth videos.
He famously forces people offering him scripts to call an 800 number and leave a voicemail. He said he would have been happy to skip the festivities surrounding the prize, especially if his beloved Chicago Cubs hadn't already advanced to the World Series.
'If this could all have been done in a letter that I received, that would have been enough,' Murray said on the red carpet. 'It's hard to stand still for this. It's a squirm-a-thon for me.'
Presenter Bill Hader (left with Maggie Carey) said he feared that if Murray had been forced to choose between accepting the award or watching the Cubs, 'we'd be playing to an empty box'. Jimmy Kimmel (right with wife Molly McNearney) quipped that Murray was so hard to get hold of he was like the Irish El Chappo
Musician Paul Shaffer and his daughter, Victoria Shafer, pose for a portrait before the award ceremony
Kimmel, Ansari (right) , Weaver and Steve Martin were among those who ribbed Murray for being aloof, unpredictable and difficult to reach — and somehow still lovable (left is Rhiannon Giddens)
The prize was first awarded in 1998 and goes to those who influence society in the tradition of Samuel Clemens, the writer, satirist and social commentator better known as Mark Twain.
Other 'Saturday Night Live' alumni who've received it include Tina Fey, Will Ferrell and last year's winner, Eddie Murphy.
In his speech, Murray — the fifth of nine children — also paid tribute to his older brother, Brian Doyle-Murray, who helped him get his start in improvisational theater. His brother had to be the breadwinner for the family after their father died, and Murray said it took courage for Brian to pursue his dreams.
'My brother had more guts than anyone I ever knew, and the only reason I'm here tonight is because of the guts of my brother Brian,' Murray said. 'He's been waiting a long time to hear that.'
It is lucky that Murray turned up at all. The Ghostbusters star told the Washington Post earlier this week that he'd rather be at Wrigley Field watching his beloved Chicago Cubs than at the lavish ceremony.
Thankfully National League Championship Series had ended before Sunday.
Presenter Bill Hader said he feared that if Murray had been forced to choose between accepting the award or watching the Cubs, 'we'd be playing to an empty box.'
Outside the ceremony, Weaver (left). described Murray as a 'pro' who just loved to have fun (Emma Stone at the ceremony, right)
Comedy writer Bruce Vilanch poses at The Kennedy Center before Murray's award ceremony
Director Ivan Reitman and his wife Genevieve Robert attend the Annual Mark Twain Award for American Humor
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