It just might be the most well-deserved award of the night: Ellen Degeneres taking home the Carol Burnett Award for outstanding contributions to television on and off the screen at the 2020 Golden Globe Awards. Cue the best person ever to introduce the honor...Kate McKinnon of Saturday Night Live fame and a zillion other hilarious movies, who grew up watching, then worked closely with the star.
But in what is traditionally a more serious (read: snoozy) segment of the night, given the length of the tribute, McKinnon delivered a speech that was smart, funny, brilliant and kind. It was quite perfect, really.
How so? For one thing, Kate struck exactly the right balance of humor and sentiment. For example, her choice to highlight all the things Ellen has personally gifted her—not just career-wise, but fashion-wise, too. She began: “Some of these are spiritual and some of them are pieces of clothing I got to keep after doing impressions of her on her talk show. A road map for a way to be funny that is grounded in an expression of joy. Two pairs of Stan Smith sneakers—that’s one of the clothes ones. A desire to bring everyone together by laughing about the things that we have in common. My best-collared shirts. A sense of self.”
McKinnon went on to thank Ellen for the impact she had on her decision to pursue comedy as a profession. “In 1997, when Ellen’s sitcom was at the height of its popularity, I was in my mother’s basement lifting weights in front of the mirror and thinking, ‘Am I gay?’ And I was, and I still am. But that’s a very scary thing to suddenly know about yourself.”
She continued: “It’s sort of like doing 23 and Me and discovering that you have alien DNA. And the only thing that made it less scary was seeing Ellen on TV. She’d risked her entire life, and her entire career, to tell the truth, and she suffered greatly for it. Of course, attitudes change, but only because brave people like Ellen jump into the fire to make them change. And If I hadn’t seen her on TV, I would have thought, ‘I could never be on TV. They don’t let LGBTQ people on TV.’ More than that, I would have gone on thinking I was an alien, and that I maybe didn’t have a right to be here. So thank you, Ellen, for giving me a shot at a good life.”
You can watch the majority of the speech here. In the meantime, cheers to McKinnon—and Ellen, of course—for hitting the mark every time.