Ellen DeGeneres Awarded Mark Twain Prize in Washington

1:17 PM PST 10/23/2012 by Sophie Schillaci
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The talk show host and comedienne was feted by Jimmy Kimmel, Lily Tomlin and Jane Lynch during the Monday night ceremony.

While President Obama and Mitt Romney talked politics in Boca Raton, Fla., Monday night, Ellen DeGeneres was getting big laughs in Washington, D.C.

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The talk show host and comedienne was awarded with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts during a Monday ceremony. DeGeneres is the 15th recipient of the award, which has been previously presented to Will Ferrell, Tina Fey and Bill Cosby.

During the two-hour show, DeGeneres was celebrated by Jimmy Kimmel,  Lily Tomlin, John Leguzamo and Glee star Jane Lynch, who credited DeGeneres with contributing to the public’s change in attitudes towards gay and lesbian entertainers.

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“I’m pretty darn sure I could not have the career I have, that I could not live as openly as I’ve lived, if it hadn’t been for you,”  Lynch said, according to the New York Times. “You really took one for the team.”

The statue, a bronze bust of iconic writer Mark Twain, is given by the Kennedy Center to “people who have had an impact on American society in ways similar to” Twain, the organization said.

“I’ve never read Mark Twain,” DeGeneres joked. “But to be fair, he’s never seen my HBO specials.”

The celebration will be broadcast by PBS on Oct. 30 at 8 p.m.

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