Five comedic legends with over 295 combined years of making the world laugh were lauded Thursday November 21 in Beverly Hills.
Television’s finest Norman Lear, Carol Burnett, Bob Newhart, Lily Tomlin, and Carl Reiner were feted by The Paley Center for Media, which treated the pleasant quintet to trophies and video montages of their tremendous involvement with TV. More youthful humorists they roused — for example, Anthony Anderson, Kristin Chenoweth, Lisa Kudrow, Sean Hayes, Allison Janney, Jimmy Kimmel and Conan O’Brien — likewise participated in sharing their very own yuks.
“I’m the youngest male comedian to take the stage [here] in 600 years,” O’Brien started the night at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. “Norman Lear, your hat voted for William Taft and you know it.”
O’Brien proceeded to present Newhart by recalling how his first parody collection, “The Buttoned Down Mind of Bob Newhart,” was on the charts for 14 weeks. “That’s a real testament to the genius of Bob’s comedy and how bad music was in 1960,” O’Brien quipped. “This is true, Bob’s album edged out Frank Sinatra’s for the Grammy, which garnered Bob worldwide fame and a savage beating from the Cleveland mafia.”
Newhart reminded the group that before he entered the business, he was a bookkeeper. “People will say, ‘Were you really an accountant?’ I always say, ‘Why would you lie about that?’” Even after he started making quips professionally, Newhart wouldn’t stop his low maintenance day business like working for the Illinois State Unemployment Office. “We used to get $65 a week and the claimants got $55,” Newhart remembered. “And they only had to come in one day a week.”
Tomlin, who was presented by her previous Web Therapy costar Kudrow, was for all intents and purposes tongue-tied about imparting the occasion to her kindred honorees. “I don’t know what I’m doing here,” said Tomlin, who’s set to reprise her title role in Netflix’s Grace and Frankie in 2020. “Although I was happy to be invited, this is the first time I’ve been invited to a top-tier industry gathering. People on the red carpet acted like I really belong here.”
Before presenting his father Carl, on-screen character/humorist Rob Reiner (All in the Family) recalled what it resembled to grow up with a virtuoso for a father. “When I was 8 years old, I went to my parents and said, ‘I want to change my name,’” said Rob Reiner. “My dad was all worried, ‘this poor kid, son of Carl Reiner, a guy who has won 12 Emmys. How do you live up to that?’ So he asked me, ‘What do you want to change it to?’ And I said Carl.”
Burnett pulled at her ear while accepting an overwhelming applause for her work in variety TV. The Carol Burnett Show ran for 11 seasons on CBS. “It was TV that gave me my opportunity but as a woman in this business, it wasn’t easy to do what the naysayers said it couldn’t be done,” Burnett recalled. “I was told by network executives that comedy variety was a man’s game. And they said, ‘it’s not for you gals.’”
Veteran TV producer Lear, who has delighted in a renaissance generally with Netflix’s reboot of One Day at once (season 4 will be on Pop TV) and Kimmel’s choice to arrange the ABC specials Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons, wrapped up the night by hailing his kindred interesting people. “I favor every one of you in this room who bring the world giggling,” said Lear, including,“I bless all of you in this room who bring the world laughter,” said Lear, adding, “I may have been too deceased to pick up this award night. Bless you all. To be continued.”