Tina Fey joins the ranks of Bill Cosby, Steve Martin, Lily Tomlin and others who have won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, the center announced Tuesday. Fey will be the youngest honoree, having just turned 40.
"I am truly thrilled to receive this honor," Fey said in a written statement. "I assume Betty White was disqualified for steroid use."
Fey returned to "SNL" earlier this month when the 88-year-old White drew rave reviews as host of the sketch comedy show.
Some of the biggest names in comedy will honor Fey when the prize is awarded Nov. 9 in Washington. The show will be taped for television broadcast later.
"It's that job as a head writer on a show that's been a traditionally male-oriented show," he said, adding that Fey's work "kind of broke the ceiling for many, many women in comedy, let alone that particular show."
She created NBC's Emmy-winning comedy series "30 Rock," in which she stars with Alec Baldwin. Fey also has made several hit movies, including her screenplay "Mean Girls" and the 2008 film "Baby Mama" with her "SNL" buddy Amy Poehler. Her film "Date Night," with Steve Carell, is playing in theaters.
This isn't the first recognition of her work. Fey was voted The Associated Press' Entertainer of the Year in 2008 by newspaper editors and broadcasters across the country after her Palin impression during the presidential campaign. Palin was the Republican vice presidential candidate.
"She's politically conscious, she's a writer, she's a filmmaker, she's a producer, she's a performer," Krantz said. "Her body of work is as inclusive and far-reaching as anyone else's, and she's just funny."
It's too soon to know who will perform in Fey's honor. The producers will likely invite many familiar faces, including people Fey has worked with, those who influenced her work and those she has influenced.
The prize honors people who have made an impact on society similar to Twain, a satirist, commentator and storyteller. This is the 13th year it's been awarded.
The Kennedy Center board chooses the winner with recommendations from former Twain honorees, the show's producers and others.