Jane Lynch, Kate McKinnon and more celebrate Lily Tomlin at Kennedy Center Honors

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“When I was growing up I always wanted to be someone. Now I realize I should have been more specific.” – Lily Tomlin

Last night on CBS, actress and comedian Lily Tomlin became the first ever out lesbian Kennedy Center honoree.  A pioneer of women’s comedy, and a previous winner of the Mark Twain Prize for Humor, Lily Tomlin is truly a national treasure well deserving of the rainbow medal (that’s not a gay joke, the medals are rainbow colored and they are glorious). 

Tomlin was honored alongside fellow honorees Al Green, Patricia McBride, Tom Hanks and Sting. Her segment was introduced by Garrison Keillor, beloved host of A Prairie Home Companion/human Ambien. (Sorry, I just don’t care about Lake Wobegon you guys.) Keillor introduced a video package highlighting Tomlin’s humble beginnings in Baltimore, her struggles to make it as a female comedian in a business dominated by men, and her rise to fame on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. It was on Laugh-In that Tomlin’s most famous characters, such as sassy phone operator Ernestine and five-year old Eunice Ann, were launched. 

Following the video was a performance featuring Jane Lynch, Kate McKinnon, Reba McEntire and Jane Fonda, aka my fantasy dinner party guest list. The women shared stories of how Tomlin’s work influenced their lives. Kate McKinnon discovered that playing lovable oddballs was a viable career. Jane Fonda discovered that Nine to Five was a comedy. Jane Lynch discovered that women could, indeed, be funny. Reba told the audience that Lily Tomlin was not only an amazing comedian, but a wonderful friend. It was around this time that it inexplicably started raining on my face. 

Tomlin was joined by her creative partner/wife Jane Wagner, who also got a shout-out in the show. All in all, it was elegant and hilarious, just like Tomlin herself. 

 

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