Ellen DeGeneres has just won the nation’s top humor award. The groundbreaking comedian will receive the Mark Twain Award at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on October 22nd.
“It’s such an honor to receive the Mark Twain Prize. To get the same award that has been given to people like Bill Cosby, Tina Fey and Will Ferrell, it really makes me wonder . . . why didn’t I get this sooner?”
Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein said in a press release:
“The Kennedy Center is happy to recognize Ellen DeGeneres’ unique contributions to the world of comedy. Through her television programs, stand-up appearances, movies, and even commercials, her special brand of humor has allowed us to find hilarity in the mundane and has kept us laughing for years.”
Ellen is now a daytime television staple and the spokesperson for JC Penney. But DeGeneres hasn’t always been widely accepted into American homes. Fifteen years ago Ellen came out on the cover of Time Magazine. Shortly after DeGeneres announced to the world that she was gay, her show, “Ellen,” began losing viewers. It was cancelled the following year.
The Washington Post notes that Ellen is the fifteenth person to receive the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Cappy McGarr, an executive producer for the Mark Twain Prize, said:
“She’s not just a comedian. She’s really a miracle worker. She got the president to dance, the first lady to do pushups and (Republican) Tom Delay to laugh.”
The Kennedy Center states that the Mark Twain Prize “recognizes people who have had an impact on American society in ways similar to the distinguished 19th century novelist and essayist best known as Mark Twain.”
And according to McGarr, that’s exactly what DeGeneres has done. McGarr said: “She’s brilliantly shined a light on society, and that’s what Mark Twain did.”