Tina Fey Gets Old Fast

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David Shankbone/Wikimedia

Tina Fey is spectacularly funny and has already had a remarkable (and positive) impact on our politics and culture. She is clearly establishing a legacy for herself as a landmark comic figure.

But the decision just announced by the Kennedy Center to give Fey this year's Mark Twain Prize for American Humor is silly. Here are the past award winners:

·  1998 - Richard Pryor
·  1999 - Jonathan Winters
·  2000 - Carl Reiner
·  2001 - Whoopi Goldberg
·  2002 - Bob Newhart
·  2003 - Lily Tomlin
·  2004 - Lorne Michaels
·  2005 - Steve Martin
·  2006 - Neil Simon
·  2007 - Billy Crystal
·  2008 - George Carlin
·  2009 - Bill Cosby

"It does change the paradigm a bit," acknowledged Mark Krantz, co-executive producer of the event, to the Washington Post. He followed this with some rather implausible spin: "A lot of people felt it was a lifetime achievement award for an old person. It never has been. It is a prize, really, about somebody's depth and talent."

Nonsense. Of course this has, up to now, been a nearly-lifetime achievement award. Of course they are pivoting toward the now. Which is fine. But don't pretend otherwise. 

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Thanks to Kurt Hirsch.
Presented by

David Shenk is a writer on genetics, talent and intelligence. He is the author of Data Smog, The Forgetting, and most recently, The Genius In All of Us. More

David Shenk is the author of six books, including Data Smog ("indispensable"—The New York Times), The Immortal Game ("superb"—The Wall Street Journal), and the bestselling The Forgetting ("a remarkable addition to the literature of the science of the mind."—The Los Angeles Times ). He has contributed to National Geographic, Slate, The New York Times, Gourmet, Harper's, The New Yorker, The American Scholar, and National Public Radio. Shenk's work inspired the Emmy-award winning PBS documentary The Forgetting and was featured in the Oscar-nominated feature Away From Her. His latest book, The Genius In All Of Us, was published in March 2010. Shenk has advised the President's Council on Bioethics and is a popular speaker. Click here to follow him on Twitter.

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