Kevin Hart will receive the Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Prize for lifetime achievement in comedy

The Kennedy Center has selected comedian Kevin Hart to receive its Mark Twain Prize for lifelong accomplishment in American humor.

concluding a three-decade career that saw him go from Philadelphia's open mics to become one of the most popular performers of his generation.

The 44-year-old Hart began his professional career as a teenager, going by the stage name Lil Kev and playing in Philadelphia's The Laff House.

He remembered his early stand-up routines as a series of vicious setbacks, where he was repeatedly jeered off stage, and once, he said, someone threw a piece of chicken at him while he was performing.

With time, Hart developed a distinctive style that brought together his small size, expressive face, and motormouth delivery to create a highly popular touring act.

He made his movie debut in the 2002 film “Paper Soldiers” and came to mainstream fame through a string of scene-stealing cameos in mega-hits such as 2005's “The 40-Year-Old-Virgin.”

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