Tina Fey collects US comedy award

Tina Fey The Mark Twain Prize honours those who define contemporary comedy

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Comedy actress Tina Fey has been awarded the annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humour - one of the most prestigious comedy honours in the US.

The star, who won an Emmy for her impression of Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live, is only the third woman to have won the award in 13 years.

Her 30 Rock co-star Alec Baldwin dressed up as Twain and presented Fey with the prize on stage on Tuesday.

Amy Poehler, Tracy Morgan and Steve Martin all paid tribute to the actress.

"Isn't it refreshing to find a comedian who is both really good and funny looking?" Martin said.

During her acceptance speech Fey said she had never dreamt of winning the prize, but added she thought she would qualify for "the Judy Blume Prize for awkward puberty or the Harper Lee Prize for small bodies of work".

As Baldwin handed over the award, he joked: "Tina, well that's a funny name for a man."

The actor went on to say that he was shocked a woman had won because "their brains aren't shaped right".

Throughout the evening, clips were played out from when Fey anchored the show, Weekend Update.

The Mark Twain Prize honours those who define contemporary comedy.

Organisers said Fey made her mark as the first female head writer on Saturday Night Live and creating the NBC comedy series 30 Rock, in which she also stars.

Fey, 40, is the youngest to win the award that was created in 1998.

Whoopi Goldberg and Lily Tomlin are the only other women to have won the prize.

The show will be broadcast on Sunday in the US.

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