On Sunday, the iconic Carol Burnett received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, one of the highest honors for a comedian.
Burnett was paid tribute by other iconic stars like Julie Andrews and Tony Bennett--who applauded Burnett on her legendary career. Burnett's break was on The Ed Sullivan Show and soon after she was cast on Broadway's Once Upon a Mattress and then began a recurring role on The Garry Moore Show.
Burnett was signed to a 10 year contract with CBS doing guest spots and performing in one TV special per year. Her contract allowed for the option of creating her own variety show with guaranteed airtime. When Burnett launched her namesake show, a male executive told her that variety shows were a "man's game." Her 11 year run certainly proved him wrong. In her acceptance speech, Burnett commented on her reaction hearing that.
At that time, I understood what he was saying, and I was never one to get angry. I said 'well this is what I know, and this is what I want to do.'
Other famous fans of Burnett honored her as well like comedian Martin Short and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. Amy Poehler and Tina Fey also praised Burnett's accomplishments in paving the way for other female comedians. Poehler said that beyond Burnett's many accomplishments above all else, she's hilarious. And Fey summed up her own feelings about Burnett and more than likely everyone agreed.
You mean so much to me. I love you in a way that is just shy of creepy.
Burnett cracked jokes while accepting the prize, including insulting Washington over the recent government shutdown.
This is very encouraging. I mean it was a long time in coming, but I understand because there are so many people funnier than I am, especially here in Washington. With any luck, they'll soon get voted out, and I'll still have the Mark Twain prize.
However, on a more serious note, Burnett said that she was thrilled to receive the award and was excited to be in the company of previous Mark Twain recipients like Ellen DeGeneres, Tina Fey and Lily Tomlin.