3 nights ago, on NBC Bill Cosby was honored with the Johnny Carson Award for Comedic Excellence at the “American Comedy Awards,” which aired on May 8 (9-11 p.m. ET/PT) on the network.
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.
“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 television’s racial barrier with I Spy in 1965, becoming the first African American to co-star on a television drama series while winning three consecutive Emmys. He created and produced the Emmy-winning cartoon Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, which began airing in the 1970s and was made into a film in 2004.
Perhaps Cosby’s greatest contribution to American entertainment and culture is the Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning The Cosby Show, which ran from 1984-92 on NBC.
Among his many accolades, Dr. Cosby has received the Kennedy Center Honors, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor and the Marian Anderson Award.
Chris Rock presented him with the Johnny Carson award at the American Comedy Awards, in a telecast that also acknowledges the work of stand-up comedians, as well as those comedic actors and actresses who perform in TV series and movies.
Below, first watch Chris Rock intro/tribute Cosby, followed by Cosby’s acceptance speech: