The Word: Carol Burnett wins the Mark Twain Prize for humor

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 20:  Mark Twain Prize recipient Carol Burnett attends The 16th Annual Mark Twain Prize For American Humor at John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on October 20, 2013 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage)
WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 20: Mark Twain Prize recipient Carol Burnett attends The 16th Annual Mark Twain Prize For American Humor at John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on October 20, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage)

Carol Burnett won the comedy equivalent of a Medal of Honor last night. The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts gave her the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

The trailblazing star is best known as the host of “The Carol Burnett Show.” A TV executive once told her that variety was a man’s game, and it ran for 11 years. Friends, costars, and fellow comedians came out to honor Burnett, including previous Mark Twain honoree Tina Fey, who got a little emotional about feting her idol.

“You mean so much to me,” Fey said, according to the AP. “I love you in a way that is just shy of creepy.”

“This is very encouraging,” Burnett said in her acceptance speech. “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.”

In honor of Carol’s special day, here’s one of my favorite sketches from “The Carol Burnett Show.” It’s long, but holds up remarkably well considering it’s more than 30 years old.


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