Ellen DeGeneres is a comedian, talk show host, pioneer, actress, author, model and much more. You can now add to that list…winner of the 15th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, the nation’s top humor prize.
DeGeneres will be honored by The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Oct. 22 with a lineup of star performers in a tribute show that will be recorded for broadcast at a later date. None of the star performers have been announced yet.
Ellen released a statement where she said receiving the same award as past honorees Bill Cosby, Tina Fey and Will Ferrell makes her wonder, “Why didn’t I get this sooner?”
It was 15 years ago that she broke ground, when on her hit television show, Ellen, she became the first lead character in primetime television to come out as gay. This helped pave the way for many more to follow, including Will and Grace, Glee and Modern Family. DeGeneres has also been the voice of a lead character in Finding Nemo and served as a judge for one season on the hit reality show, American Idol.
Before hitting the big time, the New Orleans native got her start as an emcee at a local comedy club. She won Showtime’s Funniest Person in America in 1982 and in 1986. She’s appeared on The Tonight Show and become the first female comedian called over to Johnny Carson’s desk after her performance.
The Mark Twain prize honors people who have an impact on society as a social commentator and satirist, such as Twain did. Cappy McGarr, an executive producer for the Mark Twain Prize show and a Kennedy Center board member, said DeGeneres has a special style of observational humor in the tradition of Twain and she also makes people laugh across political lines.
“This has nothing to do with any political issue,” McGarr said. “But she’s brilliantly shined a light on society, and that’s what Mark Twain did.”
Do you think Ellen is deserving? Do you feel it is a political statement by The Kennedy Center? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.
About the Author: I graduated from Central Michigan University with a Bachelors of Science in Journalism and Broadcasting with hopes of having my own radio talk show...my dreams can still come true! In the meantime, I work in sales and love anything and everything about comedy and television (well, except the Kardsahians, but I don't think I am alone on that one). You can find me on here doing interviews and reviews. Keep up with me on Twitter at @tbetzold