Kevin Hart fought back tears as he accepted the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Sunday night (24.03.24).

The comedian was honoured with America's top comedy award in a star-studded ceremony at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. he grew emotional as he thanked his loved ones in his speech and almost broke down as he shared his love for his four children.

He told the audience: "I didn’t start doing what I was doing to get awards. I just fell in love with the idea of comedy. It made me say, ‘Oh, my God, I fell in love with something I can do for the rest of my life'."

Hart went on to thank his mother, saying: "Take my mom away, and I don’t have an idea of what I want or who I want to be," and he then choked up and wiped away tears as he addressed his kids, saying: "I breathe for you. I live for you."

The award is given for excellence in comedy which has impacted American society and previous honourees including Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Eddie Murphy, Tina Fey and Adam Sandler.

The event - which was filmed for a Netflix special - kicked off with Robin Thicke and Nelly performing the rapper’s 2002 hit 'Hot in Here' and also featured performances from comedians who roasted Hart throughout the night.

Regina Hall - who has appeared in eight movies with Hart - joked of her co-star: "Kevin really cares about the quality … of the cheque. Not the product — honestly some of that stuff is pretty bad - but the man knows how to get paid!"

Other stars who took to the stage included Jerry Seinfeld, who said of the honouree: "If you look at Kevin Hart's career, it doesn't look like it was that hard to do," while Chris Rock declared his favourite Kevin Hart movie is 'The Upside' because "he had to act like he had less money than Bryan Cranston".

Hart’s mentor Keith Robinson - who has previously suffered two strokes - was also among the performers and won a standing ovation when he took to the stage.

He joked: "My New Year’s resolution: No more strokes. Chris Rock calls me Strokey Robinson. He’s an a**hole, man."

Other tributes came from Dave Chappelle - who received the Mark Twain Prize in 2019 - as well as Tiffany Haddish, Chelsea Handler, Nick Cannon and Jimmy Fallon, who sang a country song dedicated to Hart.

The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor ceremony will stream on Netflix on May 11.