Carol Burnett made everyone cry Saturday night when she accepted her Life Achievement Award at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. “I’m going to tell you my life story,” she joked before making everyone from William H. Macy to Steve Carell get misty-eyed. She left her big trophy onstage, causing Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to grab it together and make a joke carrying the heavy trophy offstage for her. Backstage Burnett had a few more things to say about comedy:
“I think that a lot of the comedy today that I see on television—I’m not a prude by any means of the imagination, I like edgy comedy, but I also think there is room for just plain old happy belly laughs, and you don’t really see that too much anymore,” she said to a rapt room. “And I sound like an old fogey, but just look at our Saturday night line-up we had back then: it was All In The Family, Norman Lear—wow—M*A*S*H, Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart, and our show, and it was all clever and it holds up today. There was no pandering to base instincts, and I just wish some of it would be elevated today by some of the writing on television. Some of the sitcoms I see, I won’t name them, but they make me feel like they might be written by teenage boys in a locker room. It’s easy to get those kinds of laughs. I would like to see cleverness come back. It does exist in some shows but not quite enough.” She then left her heavy statue on a podium backstage as well, or maybe it was just her version of a mic drop.
Other great advice backstage?
Uzo Aduba (Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series)
“Just work hard,” Aduba recalls her mother telling her. “She said, ‘I never heard of nothing coming from hard work.’”
The How to Get Away with Murder actor had the most quotable line of the night backstage: “Diversity is not a trending topic.”
Alicia Vikander (Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role)
“It’s okay to fail.” She was joined backstage by fellow winner Queen Latifah at one point.
Jeffrey Tambor (Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series)
When he commented on transgender issues, he said, “It’s not a red carpet thing, it’s a people thing.”
Leonardo DiCaprio (Winner: Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Lead Role)
The best advice he got was during his first acting gig—a Matchbox cars commercial—when he played “a little gangster with slicked back hair.” “The lesson I learned from it was, just know your lines,” DiCaprio said. “No really. Just get that over with. Once you learn your lines, then you can kinda settle into all the other moments in a scene.”
As award shows go, this one was a humdinger, with Idris Elba making history: The Beasts of No Nation actor won two awards (Outstanding Male Actor in a Supporting Role for Beasts, and a prize for Outstanding Male Actor in Television Movie or Mini Series for Luther). Not only is he the first male to win for individual performances in two categories in the same year, but he is the first black person to do so. When the back patting was over, the after party started up onstage. What’s up next movie award watchers? The big show—the Oscars on February 28.