Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein danced a little jig at the Kennedy Center last night before presenting Ellen DeGeneres with a bust of Mark Twain.
“The last time I danced in public was my bar mitzvah,” Rubenstein said. “It wasn’t a pretty sight.”
The occasion was the 15th Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, which added DeGeneres to a roster that includes Tina Fey, Steve Martin and Jonathan Winters. Much was made of the DeGeneres penchant for dancing on her television show.
Attending with her wife, Portia de Rossi, DeGeneres was saluted by Lily Tomlin (the 2003 Twain Prize recipient), Jane Lynch of “Glee,” and Jimmy Kimmel, among others. Tomlin and Lynch praised DeGeneres as a trailblazer for women comedians and for coming out as a lesbian on mainstream television.
“You are a folk hero too,” Tomlin said, comparing DeGeneres to Twain’s most famous protagonist, Huck Finn.
The evening began with a pan-seared salmon dinner. Guests included MicroStrategy Inc. Chief Executive Officer Michael Saylor and Kenneth Duberstein, chairman of the Duberstein Group Inc., and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.
Jonathan Witter, president of retail and direct banking at the event’s presenting sponsor, Capital One Bank, served as co-chairman. He said one of his leadership tenets is “not taking yourself too seriously.”
Sharon Percy Rockefeller, the chief executive of local Public Broadcasting Service affiliate WETA, said that the sudden inclusion of “Sesame Street’s” Big Bird in the presidential campaign “highlights the dangerous position” PBS finds itself in, given the threat of federal cuts.
DeGeneres joked that she was happy to be part of PBS’s “farewell season.” The network will air the Mark Twain Prize tributes to DeGeneres on Oct. 30.
Guests attended a VIP after-party for dancing and dessert.
The evening raised $1.5 million for the Kennedy Center.
Grinding Speed was the top winner at the 75th International Gold Cup, a steeplechase race in The Plains, Virginia. Michael T. Wharton’s Grindstone gelding earned a $50,000 prize Saturday.
Rynthia Manning Rost, vice president of public affairs for Geico Corp., relaxed on top of the hill at the Great Meadow Summer House.
Revelers from Capitol Hill included Scott Herndon with the U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee and Sang Yi with the House Government Reform Committee.
The event, held twice a year, benefits the Great Meadow Foundation, which preserves the land on which the race takes place.
(Stephanie Green is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
Muse highlights include Craig Seligman on books, Philip Boroff on theater.