The Kennedy Center was scheduled to award Ellen DeGeneres the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Monday night. The show will be broadcast Oct. 30 on PBS stations. When she first heard she was receiving the same honor that Bill Cosby, Tina Fey, and Will Ferrell won in recent years, DeGeneres, 54, joked, ‘‘It really makes me wonder . . . why didn’t I get this sooner?’’ DeGeneres began her career as a comedy club emcee. In 1986 after she performed on Johnny Carson’s show, he invited her over to his desk to chat. She was the first female comedian to receive that invitation from Carson. She broke ground and a taboo in 1997 when she came out publicly as a lesbian and her TV persona on her sitcom “Ellen” then became the first lead character on prime-time TV to reveal she was gay. Her hit talk show is in its 10th season.
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