Legendary comedian Carol Burnett was award the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor last night in Washington D.C., and was celebrated by stars like Amy Poehler, Martin Short, Maya Rudolph, Julie Andrews, and former Twain winner Tina Fey, who sang the opening number. Burnett starred for 11 years on the The Carol Burnett Show, a variety/sketch show that aired on CBS from 1967 to 1978 and won 25 Emmys in the course of its run. The Mark Twain Prize was founded 16 years ago by the Kennedy Center, but this wasn’t the first time they had tried to honor Burnett. “They asked me quite a few times,” the 80-year-old told reporters, “but I could never work it out with my schedule.” The ceremony will air on PBS on November 24.
The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor “recognizes people who have had an impact on American society in ways similar,” to Twain, “a fearless observer of society, who startled many while delighting and informing many more with his uncompromising perspective of social injustice and personal folly. He revealed the great truth of humor when he said ‘against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.’” Winners of the prize receive a 1884 bronze portrait bust of Twain. Previous winners include Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Lorne Michaels, and Bill Cosby.