Julia Louis-Dreyfus Honoured With Mark Twain Prize For Lifetime Achievement In Comedy

Julia Louis-Dreyfus cemented her place in American comedy history Sunday night.

The “Veep” star was the recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor for her incredible career in comedy.

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Louis-Dreyfus received the award at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts where three of the 20 previous winners of the lifetime achievement award — Stephen Colbert, Jerry Seinfeld, and Tina Fey — were on hand to pay tribute.

According to USA TodaySeinfeld spoke about casting Louis-Dreyfus in the classic sitcom “Seinfeld”, recalling, “We had just two short pages of script, and we sat down to read the dialogue together. As soon as she opened her mouth, I knew she was the one.”

Photo: REUTERS/Mike Theiler
Photo: REUTERS/Mike Theiler

Colbert, meanwhile, dug deep into the 57-year-old’s acting history, telling the audience, “We’re going to be hearing a lot tonight about her characters like Elaine [from ‘Seinfeld’] and Old Christine [from ‘The New Adventures of Old Christine’] but I want to talk about another performance, one that truly speaks to me. I bet it speaks to a lot of people in this room, too. I’m talking about Julia’s turn as Jeanette Cooper in 1986’s ‘Troll’.”

When it was her turn, Fey got personal, taking some shots at the always-game actress.

“I’ve always liked Julia. Maybe because I’d like to believe that we have a lot in common,” Fey said. “We both studied comedy in Chicago, we both lost our virginity to [Louis-Dreyfus’ husband] Brad Hall. Just me?”

Fey continued, “Julia made the bold choice for her character Elaine Benes to wear long, loose dresses, flat shoes, and over-sized coats and a centre barrette. Julia was letting us know that she was the real deal comedy-wise and she didn’t need to give us midriff for (us) to watch her work because – here’s the secret – Julia’s not afraid to be unlikable – not on screen and not in person. Just try sharing an elevator with her.”


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When Louis-Dreyfus got up on stage to accept the prize, she made sure to take some shots in return, joking, “Tina Fey, you are a comedy genius, whom I admire of all humans. Tina was honoured with the Mark Twain Prize, too. You know, before they got real serious about it.”

Then she took shots at her own parenting.

“According to Wikipedia, I have two sons, Charlie and Henry,” she said. “You know when you’re a working mother, you really worry about the time spent away from your kids. You try your best to be there as much as possible but the truth is that you miss stuff and you worry that they’re going to just get all screwed up… and then you get the Mark Twain Prize. I gotta say it’s worth it.”

Bryan Cranston, Lisa Kudrow, Tony Hale, Kumail Nanjiani, Keegan-Michael Key, Ilana Glazer, Abbi Jacobson, and singer Jack Johnson also paid glowing tribute to Louis-Dreyfus at the event.



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