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Bill Murray, DC Statehood Supporter?

Photograph by Dan Swartz.

Sunday night’s presentation of the Mark Twain Prize for Humor to Bill Murray featured plenty of celebrities sharing their “Bill Murray stories” with the Kennedy Center audience. But thanks to a musical snafu, the locals in the crowd left with a Murray tale of their own: the comedian and actor is a sympathizer for the DC statehood movement.

About two-thirds of the way into the show, the singer Miley Cyrus came on stage to perform an electrified version of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” alongside former Late Show band-leader Paul Shaffer—with the lyrics reworked to fit Murray’s career—but botched the second verse. After a string of profanity and an admission that she got “too stoned” earlier in the day, Cyrus asked for a second take, prompting Murray to interject from his box.

“It’s live entertainment in Washington, DC,” Murray yelled. “The 51st state in the union. If you had statehood, that wouldn’t have happened!”

It may be scientifically impossible to test Murray’s theory linking the District’s civic status to Cyrus’s miscue, but his statement was a welcome turnaround from the DC-bashing offered minutes earlier by Master of None star Aziz Ansari, who opened his tribute to Murray by complaining about the venue. “Stop doing all these events in DC,” Ansari said. “New York or LA: Pick one. We all live there.”

The broadcast of the ceremony—which will presumably be edited to remove Cyrus’s first take—airs Friday on PBS.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.