The reclusive US comedic actor Bill Murray has been honored with a top humor award for his decades-long film career. Murray admitted to being uncomfortable with the attention and passed the award around the room.
The 66-year-old star of "Ghostbusters" and "Lost in Translation"received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Sunday evening as his colleagues heaped praise on the low-key actor known for avoiding the limelight. "It's really hard to listen to all those people be nice to you for two days," Murray said. "You just get real suspicious."
Murray doesn't have a publicist or agent and rarely does interviews. He famously forces people offering him film scripts to leave him a voicemail and wait for him to return the call.
He said he would have been happy to skip the gala and ceremony.
"If this could all have been done in a letter that I received, that would have been enough," Murray told The Associated Press on the red carpet. "It's hard to stand still for this. It's a squirm-a-thon for me."
There was also a healthy amount of ribbing and roasting as fellow comics poked fun at his reclusive nature. "I think you and I are about as close as two people can be, considering that one of them is you," Canadian comedic actor Steve Martin and longtime collaborator said in a video tribute.
The prize was first awarded in 1998 and goes to those who influence society in the tradition of Samuel Clemens, the writer, satirist and social commentator better known as Mark Twain. Previous winners include Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Lily Tomlin and Neil Simon. Other veterans of the "Saturday Night Live" sketch comedy show that's been a US network staple since the 1970s include Tina Fey, Will Ferrell and last year's winner, Eddie Murphy.
Pays tribute to elder brother
In his acceptance speech, Murray - the fifth of nine children - also paid tribute to his older brother, Brian Doyle-Murray, who helped him get his start in improvisational theater. His brother had to be the breadwinner for the family after their father died, and Murray said it took courage for his elder brother to pursue his dreams.
"My brother had more guts than anyone I ever knew, and the only reason I'm here tonight is because of the guts of my brother Brian," Murray said. "He's been waiting a long time to hear that."
In his signature irreverent style, Murray handed the award, a bust of Twain, down into the audience to be passed around. "When I can't see it any longer, that's when I'm coming down the steps," Murray said, before closing the show by singing a version of "Sweet Home Chicago."
jar/kl (AP, Reuters)