Julia Louis-Dreyfus wins Mark Twain Prize for lifetime achievement in comedy

Lewis Collier
October 22, 2018

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, an American comedian whose career on the improv stage led to iconic roles on shows such as Seinfeld, was honored on Sunday for contributing to the national culture. "I really don't think the show would have been successful without her".

We both studied comedy in Chicago, we both lost our virginity to Brad Hall (Louis-Dreyfus' husband)...

She's set to receive the 21st annual Twain prize Sunday night at Washington's Kennedy Center, with testimonials from Jerry Seinfeld, Stephen Colbert and 2010 Mark Twain recipient Tina Fey.

Louis-Dreyfus says: "The first time I really knew was when I stuffed raisins in my nose and my mother laughed". Last week, Louis-Dreyfus said she is cancer free and is wrapping up the last season of Veep. "But I can't remember who drove me there or who drove me home".

Luckily, Louis-Dreyfus - who began her career on SNL before playing Elaine on Seinfeld for nine years and later Vice President Selina Meyer on Veep (a role for which she has earned her six consecutive Emmy Awards) - had a chance to get them back, as well as make a few jabs at the president, when she got on stage to accept the award.

"Cancer isn't at all amusing, but a big part of dealing with it has been finding the amusing moments", said Louis-Dreyfus, who is thankfully cancer-free.

"When I was getting my ugly chemotherapy, I'd cram a bunch of family and friends into this tiny treatment room with me, and we really did have some great laughs".

She shared her memory as she walked the red carpet on her way into the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.

Louis-Dreyfus was called to the small screen after a Saturday Night Live producer spotted her at a Chicago improvisational revue in 1982. "But I gotta say, the lengths that she went through to get it, frankly I was a little surprised ... that whole cancer thing?"

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"We had just two short pages of script, and we sat down to read the dialogue together", Seinfeld said.

Nanjaini says: "There are some comedians who think physical comedy is beneath them". Back in fourth grade, as a matter of fact, I was in a very serious Holton-Arms production of 'Serendipity.' You know it's amusing with us Holton girls - I remember every detail of that play.

The co-writer of the movie "The Big Sick" particularly recalls her iconic, slightly convulsive "Elaine Benes dance" on the show, which he credits to Louis-Dreyfus' gift for physical comedy.

"It's just a joy to do what you want to do and have success with it", she added.

The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is honoring Louis-Dreyfus with the 21st Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

The actress, also known for roles in shows like "Seinfeld" and "The New Adventures of Old Christine", is the 21st Mark Twain Prize recipient.

Those scheduled to speak at the ceremony include Jerry Seinfeld, Stephen Colbert and previous Mark Twain recipient Tina Fey.

The Mark Twain Prize ceremony will air on PBS on November 19 at 9 p.m. ET. "Julia made the bold choice for her character Elaine Benes to wear long, loose dresses, flat shoes and over-sized coats and a center barrette", she said.

She also discussed why she felt the need to go public with her breast cancer diagnosis last September, revealing that production for Veep being halted for her treatment was one of the reasons she chose to disclose her battle to fans.

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