Talk show icon Jay Leno set for top US comedy honour

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts will honour retired "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno with its Mark Twain humour prize at a gala in Washington on October 19, it said on Wednesday.

Leno, 64, who stepped down from the long-running NBC show in February after a remarkable 22-year run, will become the first late-night American talk show host to receive the coveted prize.

"What an honour! I'm a big fan of Mark Twain's. In fact, 'A Tale of Two Cities' is one of my favorite books!," quipped Leno in a Kennedy Center statement, referring to the Charles Dickens classic.

Past recipients include Bill Cosby, Billy Crystal, Steve Martin and Whoopi Goldberg.

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