(WASHINGTON) — Sunday evening Carol Burnett will be honored as the 2013 recipient of the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in Washington, D.C. The prize is presented annually to comedians “who have had an impact on American society in ways similar to” its namesake.
Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Martin Short, Julie Andrews and Tony Bennett are among the celebrities who will turn out to salute the 80-year-old Burnett.
Though she’s best known for her classic variety program The Carol Burnett Show, which won 25 Emmys during its decade-plus run, Burnett does not really consider herself to be a legend, because she believes the term implies that her career is over. She tells ABC News Radio, “I intend to be like the Energizer Bunny, like Betty White, because I think it just keeps you young.”
Burnett’s success has been pretty remarkable when you consider the fact that she didn’t have the total support of CBS before it launched her show in 1967. She recalls that one executive with the network told her, “Variety is a man’s game.”
Obviously, the executive underestimated Burnett’s talents. Nowadays, she says, there are many funny ladies on TV, including Fey, Poehler and Jane Lynch. She says, “I don’t think the bugaboo is there anymore about women comediennes at all.”
PBS will air the 16th Annual Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor event as a special on Nov. 24.
The 2012 recipient of the Mark Twain Prize was Ellen DeGeneres. The list of past honorees also includes Fey, Will Ferrell, Bill Cosby, George Carlin, Billy Crystal, Steve Martin, and Richard Pryor.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Lisa Respers France, CNN
Sandra Gonzalez, CNN
Brian Stelter, CNN