WASHINGTON – When Carol Burnett launched her namesake variety show in the 1960s, one TV executive told her the genre was a man’s game. She proved him wrong with an 11-year run that averaged 30 million viewers each week.
On Sunday, the trailblazing comedienne received the nation’s top humor prize at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Top entertainers including Julie Andrews, Tony Bennett and Tina Fey paid tribute to Burnett as she received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
The show will be broadcast Nov. 24 on PBS.
In an interview, Burnett said she was drawn to comedy after realizing how it felt to make people laugh. She went to UCLA with plans to become a journalist, but she took an acting course that put her on stage.
I played a hillbilly woman, and coming from Texas ... it was real easy for me, she said. I just made my entrance, and I said, I’m Baaack.’ Then they exploded. I thought whoa! This feels good.
– Associated Press