WASHINGTON (AP) - Ellen DeGeneres says all she wants to do through her comedy is "make people happy and make people laugh."
She spoke to reporters before accepting the nation's highest humor prize, the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, at the Kennedy Center in Washington Monday night.
On stage, she took a jab at Mitt Romney's plans to stop funding public broadcasting. She said, "Thanks to everyone at PBS. I am so happy to be part of your farewell season." The awards show will be broadcast next week on PBS stations.
Jimmy Kimmel, who was among those paying tribute to DeGeneres, says it was a milestone when she came out publicly as a lesbian -- and the character on her TV sitcom did the same. He says, "For a lot of people, Ellen is their only homosexual friend" -- since she's "there in their living room every single day."
And Jane Lynch, a star of "Glee," says DeGeneres "took one for the team" -- and cleared the way for other shows with gay characters.
The talk show hosted by DeGeneres is now in its tenth season. Forbes magazine has ranked her as the 47th most powerful woman in the world, with earnings estimated at $53 million last year.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)