The American Comedy Awards will return to network TV in May with one more big name to be feted, announcing late Monday the ceremony would give Bill Cosby the Johnny Carson Award for Comedic Excellence.
It’s essentially a lifetime achievement award for the 76-year-old stand-up comedian and sitcom legend, who released a new stand-up special, “Far From Finished,” last fall.
The citation on the award: The Johnny Carson Award for Comedic Excellence is presented to an individual who, over the course of their lifetime, has made an extraordinary contribution to comedy and whose impact and innovations have changed the landscape and inspired future generations of entertainers.
“This is where I started: NBC and Johnny Carson,” said Bill Cosby.
The American Comedy Awards will air in primetime on May 8, 2014, on NBC.
“Bill Cosby is an iconic figure at the forefront of the American comedy landscape,” said Paul Telegdy, President, Alternative and Late Night Programming, NBC Entertainment. “His work in television, film, stand-up comedy and literature has shaped the national sense of humor and has had an enduring impact on comedians and fans of all ages. We are delighted to honor him with the Johnny Carson Award during NBC’s inaugural broadcast of the ‘American Comedy Awards.'”
Cosby broke through in a huge way in the 1960s, both in stand-up and on television, winning three consecutive Emmy Awards for his work on NBC’s I Spy amid a stretch when he won six consecutive Grammy Awards for Best Comedy Performance for his stand-up albums. In the 1970s, he created the award-winning animated series, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, and in the 1980s, revitalized both NBC and the sitcom with his No. 1 smash hit, The Cosby Show.
Cosby previously has received the Kennedy Center Honors, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor and the Marian Anderson Award.