The celebrated star was presented with the award by country music icon and 9 to 5 co-star Dolly Parton. Jane Fonda, who stars with Tomlin on the hit Netflix dramedy Grace and Frankie, was scheduled to present, but was forced to cancel due to strep throat, Tomlin told ET's Nancy O'Dell on the red carpet.
Tomlin, like so many others at this year's show, got political in her speech, but managed to use her razor wit to bring levity to the seriousness of the political climate.
"What a week this has been though, so you are kind of anti-climactic," Tomlin said, standing next to her award. "The doomsday clock has been moved up to two-and-a-half minutes before midnight! [So] This award it came just in the nick of time."
"When the great Ruth Gordon received an Oscar for the first time at 72, she said, 'I can't tell you how encouraging a thing like this can be,'" Tomlin continued. "Wait a minute, I just realized I'm older than Ruth Gordon was at that point! But it's still an honor to receive this."
Tomlin shared a story about how she never expected, when she was young, to make anything of herself. But after finding her passion and her talent, she's been able to create a career deserving of such an honor.
"Now, after 50 years in the business, I find young actors are asking me for sage advice," Tomlin said. "So, along with telling them to wear sunscreen, I suggest a few things you may find helpful: "Don't leave the house when you're drunk. And if you're already out there, you must learn to tell when you've had too much to drink."
"Don't be anxious about missing opportunity," Tomlin continued. "Behind every failure is an opportunity someone wishes they had missed…. Live your life so that when you are being honored for your achievements, the people called upon to make laudatory remarks can feel reasonably honest about their comments. Otherwise, their words might be perceived as alternative facts or fake news."
In her final piece of advice, Tomlin thanked her wife and partner of over 40 years, Jane Wagner.
"Thank those people on whose shoulders you stand," she shared. "My partner, writer Jane Wagner, is the woman whose shoulders I stand the tallest on."
Tomlin concluded her speech recalling the words of Ruth Gordon, sharing, "I feel like I'm just getting started."
Tomlin, who began as a stand-up comic and off-Broadway stage actress, had her TV breakthrough as a cast member on the beloved sketch comedy series Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In in the early 1970s.
In 1975, she starred in her first feature film, Robert Altman's Nashville, and her performance earned her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination.
She went on to star in such beloved films and TV shows as 9 to 5, I Heart Huckabees, Murphy Brown, the West Wing, Desperate Housewives, Web Therapy and provided the voice of Ms. Frizzle on the beloved children's animated TV show, The Magic School Bus.
Tomlin's illustrious career also includes a Golden Globe for Short Cuts, five Emmy Awards, and a GRAMMY award for her comedy album This Is a Recording in 1972. While she's been nominated for three SAG awards in the past, this is the first award she's been honored with.