Tina Fey to get top U.S. award for humor

Actress Tina Fey accepts the "Individual Achievement in Comedy" for her work on "30 Rock" during the 24th Annual Television Critics Association Awards in Beverly Hills July 19, 2008. REUTERS/Gus Ruelas

NEW YORK (Reuters) - “30 Rock” and “Saturday Night Live” actress Tina Fey is to receive the annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor -- one of nation’s highest honors in the world of comedy, the Kennedy Center said on Tuesday.

Fey, whose popularity soared in 2008 with her impersonations of Republican vice-presidential hopeful Sarah Palin, will be presented the award on November 13 on a night of humor featuring other comic stars.

Fey is only the third woman to have won the honor in 13 years, after Lily Tomlin and Whoopi Goldberg.

The actress, 40, has already won six Emmys and two Golden Globes for her TV series “30 Rock”, which she writes, produces and also stars in.

Before then, she spent nine seasons on the TV satirical sketch show “Saturday Night Live” and later branched into movies with “Mean Girls”, “Baby Mama” and “Date Night”.

The Mark Twain Prize, established in 1998, recognizes people who have had an impact on society comparable to the 19th century satirist and writer of novels “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”.

Previous winners include actor Bill Cosby, stand-up comedian George Carlin, actor Steve Martin and playwright Neil Simon, the Kennedy Center said.

Reporting by Jill Serjeant, Editing by Christine Kearney