After an introduction, narrated by Wanda Sykes, showcasing his contributions to the TV landscape, Lear -- appearing virtually -- accepted the honor with grace and charm.
"To accept an award, this award, in the name of Carol Burnett, I could not feel more blessed," Lear shared. "I am convinced that laughter adds time to one's life, and nobody has made me laugh harder, there's no one I owe more time to than Carol Burnett."
"I've had a lifetime of partners, performers, associations and creative talents for which I am eternally grateful," he said "There would be an entirely different Norman Lear here with you tonight it if were not for those years of Ed Simmons and Norman Lear that were responsible for the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis Colgate Comedy Hour... that would be true for every step of my career."
Lear went on to list and thank many of his past and present collaborators -- most recently, Brent Miller -- who were all "major parts of the life and career that brought me to this very moment."
Lear finally thanked his wife, his five daughters, his son and his grandchildren, sharing, "At close to 99, I've never lived alone, I've never laughed alone, and that has as much to do with my being here today as anything else I know."
"Once more, thank you and bless you, Carol Burnett, for everything you have meant to me by way of joy, surprise, delight, and laughter. As I think about you and laughter and the joy of parallel careers, I'm so glad we had this time together," Lear concluded, tugging on his ear as a tribute to Burnett's famous gesture that she's used over the years as a subtle but iconic message to her grandmother.
The TV icon is best known for his work as a writer on All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, and Maude. He's won six Emmys and received one Oscar nomination in 1968 for the screenplay of Divorce American Style.
Prior to Lear's win, Ellen DeGeneres accepted the award in 2020 and Burnett herself got the inaugural honor in 2019 after the award was named after her.