Actor George Clooney, rock band U2, and soul singer Gladys Knight were awarded at the 2022 Kennedy Center Honors for their contributions to the performing arts. Tania Leon, the composer and conductor, was another artist honoured at the event.

On the red carpet ahead of the Kennedy Center show, Clooney, with his wife, Amal, beside him, joked that after seeing friends like Don Cheadle and Julia Roberts in attendance he was worried his tribute would be more of a “roast.” And it was a bit of a roast for Clooney, though his friends and family showed obvious respect.

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And the show did not disappoint. While Julia Roberts came out wearing a dress with a number of Clooney’s photos on it, Matt Damon took to the stage to speak a few words about Clooney, and ended up teasing his friend and longtime collaborator for quite some time. Clooney, on his part, said, “To be mentioned in the same breath with the rest of these incredible artists is an honor. This is a genuinely exciting surprise for the whole Clooney family”.

The event was also attended by President Joe Biden, who addressed the contributions of each honouree at the event. “Thank you for showing us the power of the arts and ‘We the People,’” he said. Biden also praised Clooney for his philanthropic work after the 9/11 attacks.

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The Kennedy Center does not only honour individuals, but also groups. This year it’s the band U2. The group’s strong connection to America goes back decades. They performed in Washington during their first trip to America in 1980. In a statement the band — made up of Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen Jr. — said they originally came to America with big dreams “fueled in part by the commonly held belief at home that America smiles on Ireland.”