The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced Tuesday that Emmy-winning talk show host Ellen DeGeneres will be the recipient of this year's Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
The Prize honors people who made a strong impact on the American society, like the satirist and social commentator Samuel Clemens, otherwise known as Mark Twain. It was about time for DeGeneres to receive this recognition. She joins an elite comedy club, following in the steps of Bill Cosby, Tina Fey, Whoopi Goldberg and Will Ferrell.
Kennedy Center chairman David M. Rubenstein said Ellen's "special brand of humor has allowed us to find hilarity in the mundane and has kept us laughing for years.”
In a written statement, DeGeneres mentioned how honored she is and wondered: "why didn’t I get this sooner?"
She's come a long way from her first stand-up comedy gigs in New Orleans to the award-winning talk show host and human rights activist she is today. In 1997, her groundbreaking sitcom Ellen was the first TV show to include a gay lead character. Soon after that, she came out herself as a lesbian. The ratings declined and so did her television career, once the show was cancelled in 1998.
Despite that, Ellen paved the way for other successful shows that included gay characters. Will & Grace, The L Word, Glee and Modern Family are only a few of them.
DeGeneres, whose name has become synonymous with humor, regrouped after her rejection and came back full steam ahead in 2003 with her daytime hit syndicated talk show The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which is now in its ninth season. She also wrote three books, hosted the Grammys, the Emmys and the Oscars, and had a brief stint as an American Idol judge. And in 2008, DeGeneres and her longtime girlfriend, actress Portia de Rossi, got married in an intimate ceremony at their home in Los Angeles.
Her Mark Twain Prize joins a long list of awards DeGeneres won along the time: 35 Daytime Emmy Awards with her talk show only, 12 People's Choice Awards, two Genesis Awards, three Teen Choice Awards, and one GLAAD Media Award.
She will accept her award in Washington, D.C. on October 22.
Also, DeGeneres has one more reason to celebrate: her 1500th show this Friday. And she announced this in her own proverbial humorous way in her yesterday's monologue.