Hollywood and Washington Elite Toast Tina Fey

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Comedian Tina Fey arrives for the 12th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Comedy at the Kennedy Center on November 9, 2010 in Washington, DC. Tina Fey, creator of the television show 30 Rock, is the recipient of this year's prize. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
Comedian Tina Fey arrives for the 12th annual Mark Twain Prize ceremony at the Kennedy Center on Nov. 9, 2010, in Washington, DC.. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

By Cassandra Gundy

WASHINGTON (CBS) The Mark Twain Prize for Humor, the nation's highest honor for comedians, was awarded to Tina Fey Tuesday in a star-studded affair at the Kennedy Center in Washington.

PICTURES: Celebrity Circuit

Some of Hollywood's greatest comedians - Steve Martin (a previous Twain recipient), Steve Carell, Betty White and Amy Poehler - honored the 40-year-old sitcom star and her outstanding body of work. Fey is the third female and the youngest recipient of this award.

Although she is the writer, executive producer and star of the NBC hit "30 Rock," many will remember Fey for her Emmy-winning portrayal of 2008 Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin on "Saturday Night Live."

When asked how it felt to receive this award, Fey said, "It is crazy. It feels crazy. I am honored to be here. I am so honored to be in the company of Lily Tomlin (2003) and Whoopi Goldberg (2001), the other women who hold this prize. All the people that have this prize are heroes to me."

Fey, who was wearing Oscar de la Renta, said that working at "Saturday Night Live," a dream that she had as a kid, was the highlight of her career to date.

Her partner in crime, Amy Poehler, told that Fey was worthy of this award because "she is the ultimate kind of lady right now in comedy. And a well deserved honor at that, because she has been doing everything and everything so well."

Their SNL colleague Seth Meyers joked that the prize is justified because Fey "is the only woman in comedy that wears as much tweed as Mark Twain."

Both Poehler and Meyers agree that Fey's portrayals of Palin are among her best work. "Being beside her in those moments was really fun," Poehler said.

Jon Hamm, the "Mad Men" actor and "30 Rock" guest star, said, 'Tina, like the other recipients of this award, is unique and a resonate voice within the American comedy scene. She deserves this."

His favorite Tina moment comes from his arc on "30 Rock," which included a scene with Fey and a toilet. "Anything with Tina on the toilet is hilarious, we have established that," he said.."

Steve Carell, who starred opposite Fey in this year's blockbuster movie "Date Night," said that the award is completely and utterly deserved and was excited to get inside to "phet" her.

Acting legend Betty White couldn't have been happier for Fey. "I am so excited and nobody deserves it more than she does. There is nothing she can't do and the fact that she is gorgeous can't hurt."

Fey has received seven Emmy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, four Screen Actors Guild Awards and four Writers Guild of America Awards. She was the first female head writer for "SNL," and wrote and co-starred in the 2004 smash-hit "Mean Girls" as well as "Baby Mama" in 2008, both alongside Amy Poehler.