WASHINGTON — Some of the nation’s top comedians hailed Ellen DeGeneres as a trailblazer Monday night as she received the nation’s highest humor prize.

The Kennedy Center is awarding DeGeneres the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. The show will be broadcast Oct. 30 on PBS stations.

On the red carpet before the show, DeGeneres said she doesn’t see herself as political with her comedy, even though she’s been a trailblazer.

“I just want to make people happy and make people laugh,” she said.

Coming out on TV 15 years ago feels like another life, she said.

“I did it because it was the right thing for me to do,” said DeGeneres, who is being honored as the nation’s top comedian 15 years after nearly losing her career. “It was the right thing for me to do to not live with shame. I happened to help a lot of people, and it happened to create a ruckus.”

Sean Hayes said DeGeneres made his former show, “Will and Grace,” possible. He said her “fearlessness” was her biggest contribution.

“She’s the one who went in there with a machete” and cleared the way for other shows with gay characters such as “Glee,” said “Glee” star Jane Lynch.

“Look where she is today,” Lynch added.

Kristin Chenoweth said DeGeneres has always remained kind.

“She’s not a mean girl comic,” she said.

DeGeneres, 54, began her career as a comedy club emcee in her native New Orleans. After a performance on Johnny Carson’s show in 1986, he invited her over to his desk to chat. She was the first female comedian to receive that invitation from Carson.

Turning to acting, DeGeneres landed sitcoms on Fox and ABC, eventually starring in “Ellen” from 1994 to 1998. She broke new ground and a taboo in 1997 when she came out publicly as a lesbian and her TV persona then became the first lead character on prime-time TV to reveal she was gay. A record 46 million viewers watched the episode, but the show was canceled a year later.

End coming for ‘Private Practice’

NEW YORK – ABC’s “Private Practice” is shutting down.

ABC Entertainment spokeswoman Alison Rou said Monday that the “Grey’s Anatomy” spinoff will be ending after 13 episodes this season, most likely in January. Series star Kate Walsh had previously announced she would be leaving after 13 episodes.

This is its sixth season on the air. After being paired on ABC’s schedule with “Grey’s Anatomy” on Thursday nights, “Private Practice” moved last spring to Tuesdays.

“Private Practice” had 6 million viewers last week, ranking it No. 51 in Nielsen’s weekly listing of the most popular programs.

National Geographic art on the block

NEW YORK – National Geographic Society has chronicled science and culture for more than 100 years, amassing a collection of 11.5 million photos and original illustrations.

A small selection of that massive archive – 240 pieces spanning from the late 1800s to the present – will be sold at Christie’s in December at an auction expected to bring about $3 million, the first time any of the institution’s collection has been sold.

Among the items are photographs, including that of an Afghan girl during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, a portrait of Admiral Robert Peary from his 1908 expedition to the North Pole, a roaring lion in South Africa and the face of a Papua New Guinea aborigine.

– From news service reports