Carol Burnett, the trailblazing comedienne whose variety show was a top draw on CBS for over a decade, was named the winner of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Tuesday.
Burnett, 80, will receive the award in an Oct. 20 in a ceremony to be broadcast Oct. 30 on PBS.
“It's almost impossible to be funnier than the people in Washington,” said the star, who clearly hasn't lost her sense of humor, in a written statement.
Despite a career that spans Broadway, film and television, Burnett remains best known for “The Carol Burnett Show,” which ran from 1967 to 1978. The variety program, with a cast of regular players that included Vicki Lawrence, Tim Conway and Harvey Korman, was known for its pop-culture parodies, Burnett’s many recurring characters and the frequently over-the-top costumes by designer Bob Mackie.
Burnett went on to appear as the boozy Miss Hannigan in the 1982 film version of “Annie” and in a supporting role in the '90s NBC sitcom “Mad About You.”
David Rubenstein, chairman of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, which hands out the prize, praised Burnett in a statement: “From her television program and appearances, as well as her performances on Broadway and in film, Carol Burnett has entertained generations of fans with her vibrant wit and hilarious characters.”
According to the Kennedy Center, the prize is awarded to "people who have had an impact on American society in ways similar to the distinguished 19th century novelist and essayist Samuel Clemens" — a.k.a. Mark Twain, for those of you who weren't paying attention in ninth-grade English class.
Burnett was also a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2003 for her lifetime contributions to American culture.