The legendary actress and comedian, 85, said she was “gobsmacked” to be the first recipient of the Carol Burnett Award for outstanding achievement in television.
“My first love growing up was the movies. I would see as many as six to eight films a week with my grandmother, who raised me,” Burnett told the crowd. “Then later when I was a teenager we got our first television set. Then I had a new love.”
She continued, “Regardless of the medium, what fascinated me was the way the stars on the screen could make people laugh or cry or sometimes both. And I wished, and I hoped that maybe, just maybe some day, I could have the chance to do the same thing.”
Her speech also zinged modern TV networks, which she said would “never take a chance” on her eponymous variety show ― which ran from 1967 to 1978 and nabbed 23 Emmy Awards along the way ― today.
“So here’s to reruns and YouTube,” she quipped, before concluding her remarks with a signature tug of her left ear ― a nod to her aforementioned grandmother, Mabel.
Steve Carrell praised Burnett, a five-time Golden Globe winner, as one of the “most revered, respected and well-liked people in show business” when presenting her with the award.
Meanwhile, stars like Kathy Griffin and Kristin Chenoweth applauded Burnett while pointing to her lasting influence on their own careers.
Similarly, Billy Eichner got straight to the point.
Fans also sang Burnett’s praises on Twitter.