Ellen DeGeneres was feted by a number of stars at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She was given Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, following the footsteps of past honorees like Bill Cosby, Whoopi Goldberg, Will Ferrell and Tina Fey.
"I'm flattered. It's fantastic. Of course I think, 'What took so long?' " the openly-gay TV host joked on the red carpet. She, however, noted that doing comedy was not about recognition. "You don't do it for awards, you do it to make people happy," she explained.
On Twitter, she wrote, "I'm excited to be winning the Mark Twain Award in DC! I'm gonna go get ready, as soon as I finish whitewashing this fence for Jimmy Kimmel. Washington DC is so different from where I grew up. When you take your top off, no one throws beads."
Talking about her coming out years ago that almost ended her career, she said, "I did it because it was the right thing for me to do. It was the right thing for me to do to not live with shame. I happened to help a lot of people, and it happened to create a ruckus."
The presenter of "The Ellen Degeneres Show" was accompanied by her wife, Portia de Rossi, to the event airing October 30 on PBS. "I am very, very proud of Ellen. She's not only the funniest person I know, but she's such a good person," she gushed.
Fellow comedian Jimmy Kimmel sang praise for the guest of honor as well. "For a lot of people, Ellen is their only homosexual friend," he said. "She's there in their living room every single day." He also stated, "She's very genuine and she makes it look easy and it's not easy."
John Krasinski agreed, "She's one of those people where you feel she's your friend." Kristin Chenoweth echoed their sentiment, "She's not a mean girl comic." Jason Mraz added, "She's the same backstage as she is on stage, and that's why you love to watch her."
Sean Hayes also recognized her fearless contribution, "I like to think that Ellen made 'Will & Grace' possible. And Will & Grace made it possible for 'Modern Family'." "Glee" actress Jane Lynch concluded, "She's the one who went in with the machete and did it all by herself."