Mark Twain Prize For American Humor Honoring Julia Louis-Dreyfus 2018

On October 21, 2018, Louis-Dreyfus became the sixth woman to receive the Mark Twain Prize in its 20-year history, a theme that threaded through the ceremony.

There was Tina Fey, herself a recipient of the Mark Twain Prize in 2010, who praised Louis-Dreyfus’s performance as Elaine Benes. 

And there were Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, stars of the Comedy Central show “Broad City,” who credited Louis-Dreyfus with their own comedic confidence. The two filmed an elaborate sketch with a professional dance troupe practicing the signature Elaine Benes dance, then brought the troupe on stage for a final performance. 

The actress Ellie Kemper of the Netflix show “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” spoke in a video tribute about that same influence, noting how important it was that Louis-Dreyfus also produced “Veep.”

“It’s crucial that women have those positions, to promote women,” she said.

The comedian Keegan-Michael Key said that “men have it easy. It’s the women like Julia who have fought to create the path for other women to follow. Open doors, change the dynamic.”

Some tributes tripped over the very tropes they were trying to mock, perhaps intentionally.

“She was one of the guys,” George Shapiro, one of the producers of “Seinfeld,” said in a video tribute.

The other women who have received the Mark Twain Prize are Whoopi Goldberg, Lily Tomlin, Ellen DeGeneres and Carol Burnett. This year's show will air on PBS on November 19. 

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