Last night (October 22, 2012), Ellen Degeneres, 54, was awarded the 15th Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

Her wife, the actress Portia DeRossi, was one of the first to congratulate Ellen and told reporters on the red carpet “I am very, very proud of Ellen. She's not only the funniest person I know, but she's such a good person.” She added, affectionately “I really like those little moments that only I recognize as her being her true self, when I can see she's being vulnerable.”

Portia wasn’t the only star to attend the bash at the John F Kennedy Centre for Performing Arts. The Will & Grace actor Sean Hayes said “like to think that Ellen made Will & Grace possible. And Will & Grace made it possible for Modern Family. (DeGeneres') fearlessness was her contribution and it continues to be.” The Glee star Jane Lynch said “She's the one who went in with the machete and did it all by herself,” whilst the singer Jason Mraz referred to DeGeneres as his “favorite aunt,” USA Today have reported.

Ellen has a respected career behind her. She rose to fame as a comic actress and famously came out as a lesbian on her show, Ellen, in 1997. “It was the right thing for me to do,” said Ellen. “It happened to help a lot of people and it happened to cause a ruckus. That was a very fearful time in general for the gay community.” She follows in the footsteps of revered comedians such as Bill Cosby, Will Ferrell and Tina Fey in receiving the award. “I'm flattered. It's fantastic. Of course I think, 'What took so long?’” she joked on the red carpet.