Julia Louis-Dreyfus Gets a Top Award for Comedy

Manila Bulletin, October 23, 2018 | Go to article overview

Julia Louis-Dreyfus Gets a Top Award for Comedy


WASHINGTON (AP) -- After a 35-year acting career and with two iconic television characters to her name -- Elaine Benes of "Seinfeld" and foul-mouthed Vice-President Selina Meyer -- Julia Louis-Dreyfus has been honored with the Mark Twain Prize for lifetime achievement in comedy.

On Sunday night at Washington's Kennedy Center, the 57-year-old actress received a stream of testimonials from celebrities including Jerry Seinfeld, Stephen Colbert and 2010 Mark Twain recipient Tina Fey, touching on the multiple aspects of her career.

"We both started comedy in Chicago," said Fey, paying tribute by tracking the similarities between their lives.

"We both moved on to 'Saturday Night Live.' We both lost our virginity to Brad Hall," referring to Louis-Dreyfus' husband and former SNL cast mate, sitting next to the honoree. Fey praised the "secret precision" of her comedy and her willingness to make her Seinfeld character so flawed.

"Julia let Elaine be selfish and petty and sarcastic and a terrible, terrible dancer," Fey said. "Julia's never been afraid to be unlikable -- not on screen and not in person."

Louis-Dreyfus is the 21st Mark Twain recipient, joining a list that includes Richard Pryor, George Carlin and Carol Burnett. Bill Cosby, the winner in 2009, had his award rescinded earlier this year after he was convicted of three counts of aggravated indecent assault.

During last year's ceremony to honor David Letterman, Cosby's name was never mentioned. But this year, two of the performers felt comfortable making Cosby jokes. Late night host Stephen Colbert displayed a sign proclaiming, "167 days since the last Un-Twaining."

With his fingers crossed, he told Louis-Dreyfus, "I think you'll be OK."

Later Keegan-Michael Key come onstage, dressed as Mark Twain himself and proceeded to roast many of the previous award recipients. When a picture of Cosby was briefly shown, Michael-Key quickly moved things along and said, "It's OK, he's not watching," then added that he doubted PBS was a popular channel "in the penitentiary."

Seinfeld, while on the red carpet before the ceremony, recalled first meeting Louis-Dreyfus during an informal audition. His iconic sitcom, "Seinfeld," was still in the planning stages and producer Larry David knew Louis-Dreyfus from their time together on "Saturday Night Live."

"We had just two short pages of script, and we sat down to read the dialogue together," Seinfeld said. "As soon as she opened her mouth, I knew she was the one."

Seinfeld also credited Louis-Dreyfus for having the confidence and strength of personality to hold her own on what he called "a very male show. …

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