Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, reports E! News. The Veep star is the sixth woman to win the prize since its founding in 1998, and she attended the ceremony with her husband Brad Hall and eldest son Henry Hall.
Also attending the event were Bryan Cranston, Tina Fey, Ilana Glazer, Tony Hale, Abbi Jacobson, Jack Johnson, Keegan-Michael Key, Lisa Kudrow, Kumail Nanjiani, and Jerry Seinfeld, who all came out to pay tribute to Louis-Dreyfus with a good old-fashioned roasting.
Fellow Saturday Night Live alumna Tina Fey delivered her tribute to the great amusement of the audience.
“I’ve always liked Julia—maybe because I’d like to believe that we have a lot in common. We both studied comedy in Chicago. We both lost our virginity to Brad Hall.”
She then pretended to get embarrassed and jokingly asked the crowd, “Just me?”
Fey went on to talk about Louis-Dreyfus’s character on the popular sitcom Seinfeld.
“Julia made the bold choice for her character Elaine Benes to wear long, loose dresses, flat shoes, over-sized coats and a center barrette. Julia was letting us know that she was the real deal comedy-wise and she didn’t need to give us midriff for us to watch her work, because—here’s the secret—Julia’s not afraid to be unlikable. Not onscreen and not in person. Just try sharing an elevator with her! Julia let Elaine be petty and sarcastic and a terrible dancer.”
Larry David, co-creator of Seinfeld, also paid tribute to the actress via a video message because he’s, in his own words, “kind of lazy.”
“I want to congratulate Julia for this unbelievably prestigious award. But I gotta say, the lengths that she went through to get it, frankly I was a little surprised… that whole cancer thing? Cancer? Honestly, I gotta take my hat off to her. What a scam. She’s such a great actress. She really committed to it. She almost had me going for a second. I gotta say, she’s done some incredible acting work… but nothing, nothing tops this cancer performance. I stand in awe.”
When Louis-Dreyfus finally took the stage to make her own speech, the crowd erupted in laughter.
“When Mark Twain first emailed me about the Mark Twain prize, I have to admit I totally misunderstood. I thought I was being asked to honor someone else. What a hassle. I have to go all the way to Washington, D.C., and make up flattering things to say about how funny someone else is. And then I realized: It’s me. I get the prize, and my attitude about the whole thing changed. It really did. This is a great night, a great honor. Anybody would be lucky to be part of a night like this honoring someone like me.”
Before wrapping up her speech, and getting choked up in the process, the actress poked fun at her celebrity colleagues and expressed her gratitude for making it through to the other side of her recent breast cancer battle. She added that comedy and laughter kept her going through the hard times and is one of the best remedies in life.
“The fact that I have had the opportunity to make people laugh for a living is one of the many blessings that I have received in my life.”