Will Ferrell, who refined his impersonation of president George W Bush on the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live and later took his presidential act to Broadway, has been awarded the top American humour prize.
The TV star went on to make films and co-found the popular website FunnyorDie.com, which won him the Mark Twain Prize for American Humour from the Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts.
It was the Bush impression, though, that might have made the Washington crowd laugh - and cringe - the hardest.
"Washington is not a city much known for its comedy - at least not the intentional kind," said PBS news anchor Gwen Ifill, who mentored Ferrell on his journalistic skills for the movie Anchorman.
She introduced a clip of Ferrell playing Bush in You're Welcome, America: A Final Night with George W Bush on Broadway.
Dressed in a flight suit under a banner that read Mission Accomplished, he explained how Morocco had sent a special unit of 2,000 trained monkeys to fight terrorism "and make children laugh".
With that kind of comedy, Ferrell had accomplished something amazing, Ifill said.
"He got Democrats to pay and see and applaud George W Bush," she said.
Conan O'Brien, Jack Black, Matthew Broderick, Ben Stiller and the rock band Green Day performed in Ferrell's honour.
When he was finally awarded the prize, a bronze bust of Twain, Ferrell promptly dropped it on stage and tried to pick up the pieces. He joked that he had turned the prize down 13 times before but decided to accept this time because of the prize money (there is not any) and to be watched on PBS "by hundreds of people across this country".