Paula Pell will receive the WGA East’s Herb Sargent Award for Comedy Excellence at the 72nd annual WGA Awards, which will be held February 1. The award will be presented by her longtime friend and former SNL colleague Amy Poehler.
The honor will be bestowed in New York at the Edison Ballroom; the WGA Awards ceremonies will be held concurrently in New York and at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles.
“I am truly thrilled and honored to receive the WGA Herb Sargent Award for Comedy Excellence,” Pell said. “I heard many stories of Herb’s legendary work when I joined SNL in 1953,” she joked. “I will proudly put this next to my lifetime achievement award from Clever Matron Magazine.”
The Sargent Award is presented to writers who embody “the spirit, commitment and comic genius of Mr. Sargent, as well as his dedication to mentoring new writers,” the guild said. A legendary writer and television producer, Sargent served as president of the WGA East for 14 years, and was a writer-producer of Saturday Night Live for more than 20 years. Past winners include Judd Apatow, Lorne Michaels, James L. Brooks. Tina Fey & Robert Carlock, Steve O’Donnell, Gary David Goldberg and Norman Stiles. Sargent died in 2005.
Pell, a guild member since 1996, “has mentored a generation of women comedy writers who have been influenced by her ability to craft jokes and characters that are sublimely funny and wickedly edgy, and only get funnier the more you hear them,” the guild said. She spent 20 years at SNL, where she created numerous fan favorite characters and sketches, from Gilly and Debbie Downer to the Appalachian Emergency Room and Suze Orman. She may best be remembered for the classic sketches “The Spartan Cheerleaders” and the Justin Timberlake sketches “Omeletteville,” “Homelessville” and “Liquorville.”
Pell wrote the comedy Sisters for Universal, which starred Poehler and Fey, and wrote and produced several episodes of NBC’s 30 Rock. She is currently in production on the Quibi series The Mapleworth Murders, for which she is writing and starring. The series is expected to debut in spring 2020. She’s also in production on No Activity, the CBS All Access and Funny Or Die comedy series. Netflix, meanwhile, has acquired her upcoming feature comedy Hometown, a film that will star Natasha Rothwell, who will be co-writing the script with Michelle Lawler and Pell, who will also produce.
Pell currently stars in Lorne Michaels’ NBC comedy A.P. Bio, opposite Patton Oswalt and Glenn Howerton; the third season of the show will air on NBCUniversal’s Peacock. In film, she most recently was one of the stars in Wine Country, Poehler’s directorial debut for Netflix.