Comedian and television host Trevor Noah received the prestigious 2023 Erasmus Prize from King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands at a ceremony held recently at the Royal Palace Amsterdam.
Noah expressed his deep gratitude for the award, describing it as “truly an honor” and reflecting on his journey from a small stage in Johannesburg to connecting with people through laughter all around the world. He emphasized the unifying power of humor, stating, “Whether you’re from Amsterdam or Johannesburg, we all journey through life’s complexities together.”
King Willem-Alexander acknowledged the specialness of the occasion, recognizing Noah as the youngest recipient of the award and drawing a parallel between him and previous winner, the phenomenal Charlie Chaplin. The King highlighted the dual nature of humor, but ultimately commended Noah’s mastery of laughter as a liberating force.
The Erasmus Prize, awarded annually to individuals or institutions contributing significantly to the humanities, social sciences, and arts, was bestowed upon Noah under this year’s theme, ‘In Praise of Folly,’ mirroring Desiderius Erasmus’s book on humor, social criticism, and satire. The jury praised Noah’s linguistic, mocking, yet unifying humor, aligning with the “Erasmian spirit.”
The ceremony was attended by prominent figures, including Princess Beatrix, Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema, and several of Noah’s comedian peers. The Dutch King has previously presented the award to notable figures like Israeli writer David Grossman, British artist Grayson Perry, and American composer John Adams.
The Erasmus Prize includes a cash sum of 150,000 euros and a unique ribbon adornment featuring text in Erasmus’s handwriting. This inscription, originating from a 1523 letter penned by Erasmus, encourages individuals to express their talents and contribute to the education of all.