WASHINGTON - The Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts will honour retired ‘Tonight Show’ host Jay Leno with its Mark Twain humour prize at a gala in Washington on October 19, it said Wednesday. Leno, 64, who stepped down from the long-running NBC show in February after a remarkable 22-year run, will become the first late-night American talk show host to receive the coveted prize. ‘What an honour! I’m a big fan of Mark Twain’s.

In fact, ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ is one of my favourite books,’ quipped Leno in a Kennedy Centre statement, referring to the Charles Dickens classic. Past recipients include Bill Cosby, Billy Crystal, Steve Martin and Whoopi Goldberg.