The stars shone bright on the red carpet in Washington D.C. on Sunday night as Carol Burnett was awarded the elite
Some of comedy's most popular names appeared onstage to sing Burnett's praises during the nearly two-hour long ceremony, including
Fey called Burnett "the finest female sketch comedian in American history," and told Burnett, "I love you in a way that is just shy of creepy."
Indeed, most -- if not all -- of the comedians present were inspired by Burnett's seminal variety show, "The Carol Burnett Show," which ran on Saturday nights from 1967 to 1978. In many ways the show was a predecessor of
"SNL" alum Fey was honored with the Mark Twain Prize in 2010 at the tender age of 40, a fact that she still seemed astounded by. However, it was noted by Burnett on the red carpet that this was not the first time that the Kennedy Center tried to give her the prize. Scheduling never permitted it to work out until now.
"I've never smoked pot, but I don't think there could be a better high," Burnett said.
Other highlights of the evening included many clips of Burnett in action over the years, some good-natured roasting by Short and a touching performance of the song, "The Way You Look Tonight," by Tony Bennett.
The Mark Twain Prize caps a career of prizes for Burnett.
When Burnett finally took to the stage she had to calm the crowd, which gave her a prolonged standing ovation. When she spoke, she made it clear that her sense of humor had not dimmed with age.
"This is very encouraging," she said. "It was a long time in coming, but I understand — because there are so many people funnier than I am, especially here in Washington."