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Ellen DeGeneres honored with Mark Twain Prize for American Humor

October 23, 2012|By Christie D'Zurilla
  • Ellen DeGeneres, center, with wife Portia de Rossi, left, prepares to receive the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Monday at the Kennedy Center in Washington.
Ellen DeGeneres, center, with wife Portia de Rossi, left, prepares to receive… (Alex Brandon / Associated…)

Ellen DeGeneres took home the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, the top prize in comedy, on Monday night in Washington.

"Washington, D.C., is so different from where I grew up," tweeted DeGeneres, a native of New Orleans, ahead of being honored. "When you take your top off, no one throws beads."

The evening — which saw the comic and talk-show host joining the ranks of previous winners including Will Ferrell, Billy Crystal, Tina Fey and Bill Cosby — wasn't all about jokes, however, reported the Washington Post, as DeGeneres was also recognized for one groundbreaking move: coming out as a lesbian on TV in 1997.

“She went from stand-up to standing for something,” said Lily Tomlin, according to the Post. Tomlin is also a past Mark Twain Prize recipient.

Sean Hayes of "Will and Grace" and Jane Lynch of "Glee" similarly praised Ellen as a trailblazer who made their shows possible. Jimmy Kimmel, Kristin Chenoweth and Jason Mraz were among the other performers lauding the star of the night.

"I just want to make people happy and make people laugh," DeGeneres said on the red carpet before the show. 

"The Kennedy Center is happy to recognize Ellen DeGeneres' unique contributions to the world of comedy," Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein said when it was announced she was getting the award. "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."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

ALSO:

DeGeneres lands Mark Twain humor prize; Seacrest buys her house

Will Ferrell receives the Mark Twain Prize — and don't you dare touch it

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