WASHINGTON: US comedian Bill Murray is on cloud nine, and it’s not just because his beloved hometown baseball team, the Chicago Cubs, are advancing to the World Series for the first time in 71 years.
The “Caddyshack” and “Lost in Translation” star got a major salute Sunday from America’s top comedians and Hollywood A-listers, who presented him with one of the nation’s top comedy awards.
“I’m confused and I feel like I’m in a hurricane,” Murray told a crowd in Washington after receiving the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor—quickly goading the audience to pass around his trophy, a small bust of the 19th century writer and humorist, to “see how far back it can get.”
The 66-year-old was feted at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington by comedy’s finest—Aziz Ansari, Bill Hader, a fully bearded David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel.
They turned out to share anecdotes and jokes about the US comedian, whose appeal spans multiple generations.
“He’s a man who travels around the world spreading joy and foolishness wherever he goes,” Kimmel told the audience.
“Bill Murray could shove you over the side of the Hoover Dam and you’d be like, ‘Hey, Bill Murray!’ all the way down,” Kimmel said of the comedian.
Murray is known for his notoriously bizarre antics, such as crashing a recreational kickball game in New York in 2012 or joining a couple as an uninvited surprise guest in their engagement photos in South Carolina.
Singer Miley Cyrus paired with musician Paul Shaffer to perform a musical tribute to Murray, and actresses Sigourney Weaver and Emma Stone recounted their favorite memories from working on set with Murray.
Had the Cubs not clinched a win Saturday, however, the evening could have been for naught, as the Major League Baseball team would have been playing game seven during the ceremony.
Speculation as to whether avid fan Murray would show for the award ceremony or head to the game—had it happened—was rife. But Murray, who wore a black tuxedo and Cubs-blue bow tie, said he had not had plans to skip the award.
Dinner with Sotomayor, meeting with Obama
Murray took full advantage of his time in Washington, dining with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and stopping by the White House press briefing room Friday decked out in Cubs attire.
“He was wearing a Cubs jacket, which for a White Sox fan is a little troubling,” US President Barack Obama, who met with the comedian despite their opposing baseball allegiances, told reporters.
Asked about what the pair of golf enthusiasts talked about, Murray told AFP: “putting.”
Murray first rose to fame in 1977 on the cast of “Saturday Night Live,” playing smarmy crooner “Nick the lounge singer,” before landing his first major big screen role in the 1979 hit “Meatballs.”
By 1980, Murray had quit SNL and over the next two decades became one of Hollywood’s biggest comedic stars through such roles as an oblivious groundskeeper in “Caddyshack” (1980), a supernatural investigator in “Ghostbusters” (1984) and a doomed weatherman in “Groundhog Day” (1993).
In recent years, Murray’s roles have taken a more serious turn, including in a handful of Wes Anderson films such as “Rushmore” (1998) and his Oscar-nominated performance as a worn-out movie star in Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation” (2003), for which he won a Golden Globe.
Born in 1950 in a Chicago suburb, Murray was the fifth of nine children. He first got involved in comedy when he followed his older brother Brian Doyle-Murray onto the cast of Chicago’s famed Second City improvisational comedy troupe.
“The only reason I’m here is because of my brother Brian,” Murray told the crowd.
Former recipients of the Mark Twain Prize include Whoopi Goldberg, Tina Fey, Jay Leno and last year’s winner Eddie Murphy. The award ceremony will air on public broadcaster PBS on Friday. AFP