SNL alum Tina Fey receives top U.S. humor prize

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Comedian Tina Fey, whose parody of former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin some say influenced the 2008 U.S. presidential election, accepted the Mark Twain prize for American Humor on Tuesday before a packed audience at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

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An all-star line-up of comedy luminaries from fellow Twain Prize winner Steve Martin to Betty White saluted Fey for her pioneering role as the first lead female writer on “Saturday Night Live” to her Emmy Award-winning comedy “30 Rock.”

Fey, in a glittery black cocktail dress, thanked all of the stars who traveled across the country to honor her.

“It means so much to me that you care about showbiz more than your families,” she said.

“I never thought I’d ever qualify for the Mark Twain prize. ... Maybe the Judy Blume prize for awkward puberty,” Fey said.

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

Blume is a contemporary novelist whose books are popular among teenagers.

“We are all here tonight because Tina won something,” her former SNL castmate Seth Meyers said, alluding to Fey’s Palin alter ego.

“I can see Russia from my house,” Fey said, imitating Palin in a series of sketches replayed at the Kennedy Center gala.

Fey, 40, is the youngest person to have won the honor in 13 years, and the third female recipient after Lily Tomlin and Whoopi Goldberg.

“She dares to offend and shrugs off the obvious choice. She has the uncanny ability to make something out of nothing,” her “Date Night” co-star Steve Carrell said in a tribute to Fey.

Writing by JoAnne Allen; editing by Mohammad Zargham