Dec 09

Carol Burnett, Winner of This Year’s Mark Twain Prize

“I have always grown from my problems and challenges, from the things that don’t work out, that’s when I’ve really learned.” Carol Burnett

When beloved comedian Carol Burnett was growing up, she was poor, had two alcoholic parents who divorced when she was a preschooler, and her parenting was mainly provided by her hypochondriacal grandmom. Not that she ever bemoans her fate. She’s often said that it was all relative; because everyone else around her had similar upbringings, it just seemed normal.

In her adult life she’s survived, among other things, her own divorce and having a daughter, actress/singer Carrie Hamilton, who successfully battled drug addiction only to later succumb to cancer at the age of 38. Writer of several memoirs, Burnett’s most recent, in fact, is Carrie and Me: A Mother-Daughter Love Story (2013).

When I was growing up, I considered Carol Burnett, now the most recent and 16th winner of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, my idol. Tina Fey, who opened the televised tribute to Burnett and was proud to be the first of the night to declare her own idolatry, so valued The Carol Burnett Show  that it became “a disciplinary tool” used by her parents—no watching it when she misbehaved. Luckily, my mom didn’t get that memo. (Not that I ever misbehaved.)

According to Margy RochlinNew York Post, Burnett, idol indeed to so many, had been offered the Mark Twain Prize prior to this. She had to turn it down, however, due to scheduling conflicts.

The actual tribute, featuring many presenters—mostly celebrities also known for their wit and humor—occurred in late October and aired about a month later. You can now watch the entire two-hour show on (Click on the link.)

Or, just watch a brief clip here of Amy Poehler portraying Roz, Burnett’s personal assistant.