Lily Tomlin, whose career spans six decades from her big debut on Laugh-In in the 1960s to Grace and Frankie today, has been able to succeed in both comedy and drama. Hence, the SAG Life Achievement Award. Tonight she thanked the one person whose shoulders she stood tallest upon, her longtime partner Jane Wagner. She had her peers in the audience on their feet for a standing ovation, the second of the night only after her 9 to 5 co-star Dolly Parton, who introduced her old friend.
Tomlin began her acceptance speech by giving some advice to other actors, which included: “Don’t leave the house if you’re drunk, and if you’re out there you must be able to tell when you’ve had too much to drink. Listen to your friends. If your friends are talking to you and about you, saying things like, ‘Did she have a purse? … and mind what Theroux said, ‘Beware of any enterprise that requires new clothing.’ Doesn’t that ring sort of true tonight … at least for some of you?’”
The theme of the entire night was political, no one mentioned Trump by name, but they talked about his executive order. Tomlin danced around the edge: “Live your life so that when you are being honored for your achievement, the people who are called upon to make laudatory remarks can feel reasonably honest about their comments. Otherwise, in these times, all their words of praise might be perceived as ‘alternative facts, or worse, yet ‘fake news.’
Tomlin also joked that the Doomsday Clock has just moved up to two-and-a-half minutes to midnight. “And this award, it came just in the nick of time.”
Tomlin, also a longtime activist in a variety of issues, pondered, “What sign should I make next for the next march?’ and then gave a litany of causes that she cared about including global warming, Chinese missiles, immigration, LGBT issues, Standing Rock. She twice quoted Ruth Gordon, who said at the age of 72, “I can’t tell you how encouragin’ a thing like this is.” Tomlin then noted that she is older than Gordon was at the time. She is now 77.
Tomlin said, “I feel like I’m just getting started … as long as I don’t have to audition, I just may be back.”