Comedian and talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres is this year’s recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. To which I do my own version of Ellen’s signature happy dance.
DeGeneres is not the first female to win the prestigious award, which has been bestowed by the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts annually for the last 15 years. Tina Fey, Lily Tomlin and Whoopi Goldberg are all past winners. But it’s always great when another woman makes it into the traditionally male pantheon of comedy.
Let me say up front that I’m not a huge fan of Ellen’s day-time talk show, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” To my taste, it’s too sweet, too schmaltzy and too, well … safe.
But I’m a huge fan of Ellen. For starters, she’s funny as hell. She started out as an emcee at a local comedy club in her native New Orleans. In 1982, a video of her stand-up routine won her Showtime’s “Funniest Person in America” award. In 1988, she became the first female comedian summoned to Johnny Carson’s desk to chat about her performance on “The Tonight Show.”
And if you’ve never seen the episode on the erstwhile Garry Shandling Show where Shandling – in his role as a (fictional) talk show host – tries to persuade Ellen to “come out” on his show (and then ends up sleeping with her), it’s laugh-out-loud hilarious.
Read the rest of this post on The Washington Post’s She The People blog…
Image: Ellen Degeneres by bernie.levine (back to no computer) via Flickr under a Creative Commons license