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Bill Cosby

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor goes to the darndest comedians.

It will be the Bill Cosby show when the 12th such honor is handed out Oct. 26 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., where a bevy of funnymen and women will gather to salute the pioneering comic who went from stand-up and I Spy to No. 1 TV dad and Jell-O Pudding pusher.

"I would like to apologize to Mr. Twain for falling asleep hundreds of times, but he should understand that I was only 4," Cosby, recounting how his mother tried to read him Tom Sawyer and other Twain classics as a kid, said in acceptance.

The 71-year-old Cosby, already a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 1998 and a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002 for his body of work in entertainment and social activism, is in fine company. Richard Pryor received the inaugural Twain prize in 1998 and past recipients have included Steve Martin, Lily Tomlin, Lorne Michaels and George Carlin, who was feted posthumously last year.