Mark Twain Prize will go to Tina Fey

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The Kennedy Center will present its 13th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor to Tina Fey on Nov. 8 in Washington.

Fey is the star, executive producer and a writer of ’30 Rock,’ for which she’s won almost too many awards to list: an Emmy, two Golden Globes, four SAG Awards and a People’s Choice Award. She has starred in two feature films -- ‘Date Night’ and ‘Baby Mama’ -- as well as voicing characters for two animated features. She got her start with the Chicago improv company The Second City and was a writer and performer on ‘Saturday Night Live’ for nine seasons.

Her satiric characterization of Sarah Palin was so good that people still think that Palin said, ‘I can see Russia from my house!’ That was Fey, not Palin. (What Palin actually said was: ‘You can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska.’)

Fey is also at work on a book of humorous essays for Little Brown; she signed the deal, rumored to be worth more than $5 million, in the fall of 2008.


Previous recipients of the Mark Twain Prize include Bill Cosby, George Carlin, Steve Martin, Carl Reiner and Bob Newhart; the first honoree was Richard Pryor. All have been known, as Twain was, for stage performance and writing -- as well as the multiple other media available today. Fey is the second woman to receive the honor, after Lily Tomlin in 2003.

Single tickets to the live event start at $1,000; packages go up to $50,000. Proceeds go to a good cause -- they benefit the Kennedy Center’s education department programs -- but those of us with emptier pockets can wait for the PBS television broadcast on Nov. 14.

-- Carolyn Kellogg