Billy Crystal Jokes About Turning 74 During Critics Choice Awards Speech: 'Can't Remember' Anything

Billy Crystal was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2022 Critics Choice Awards

Billy Crystal
Photo: Amy Sussman/Getty

Billy Crystal is getting his due.

The 73-year-old actor received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 27th annual Critics Choice Awards Sunday night. Only five other stars have earned the honor in the award show's history: Lauren Bacall, Kevin Costner, Clint Eastwood, Eddie Murphy and Robert Wise.

"I want to thank you for this wonderful award," he began in his acceptance speech. "To all the critics, this may be the first time we actually agree on something."

Referring to a montage from his career that played before his speech, Crystal told the audience, "watching those clips made me think of one word: that is, residuals."

Billy Crystal
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"I had so many great moments and I want to thank all of the people I had those moments with in every capacity ... I've been so blessed to work with such amazing people my entire career, which is now in its 50th year. What's exciting about it is so much more to come, that's what's exciting at this point in my life

"Tomorrow is my birthday, and I'm going to be 74 years old, and as Jimmy mentioned, I'm about to open in a Broadway musical," he said, referring to the upcoming production of Mr. Saturday Night.

"I can't remember when I worked harder or had more fun on a project, and I'm serious. I'll be 74 tomorrow, and I just can't remember," he quipped.

"Funny people, entertainers, we start by making our parents laugh first, our family, our friends. I grew up in a time ... when television was this new frontier, it was the comics that settled it," he said, explaining, "watching them get laughs made me want to get laughs.

"So before I knew it, I'm standing on a coffee table imitating my relatives, who were these joyful souls, many of them from ... Russia, my grandmothers were from Odessa and Kyiv. They escaped the pogroms to come to America, where they could live free from tyranny. And their laughter, the first laughs I ever got in my life, is the fuel that my engine is still burning today.

"I dedicate this award to those amazing people in our living room in Long Ridge, Long Island, whose laughter and joy started this five-year-old boy on his way to this moment," he said, clutching his award. "I pray that somehow, some way there can be laughter and joy in that part of the world once again."

Billy Crystal
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"My lifetime achievement award is my family," Crystal said, shouting out upcoming 52 year anniversary with his wife. He closed out speech with a quote from Muhammad Ali: "If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, then I can achieve it."

Crystal is known for films like 1989's When Harry Met Sally..., 1991's City Slickers and 1999's Analyze This, as well as his voice work as Mike Wazowski in Disney/Pixar's Monsters, Inc. The writer/director is also a Saturday Night Live alum who has hosted the Oscars nine times.

He directed last year's Here Today, in which he costarred with Tiffany Haddish, and Crystal returns to Broadway for the musical comedy Mr. Saturday Night, opening April 27.

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Back in 2020, Crystal told PEOPLE Now, "I love the fact that I'm going to be 72 and I'm having a great chapter 2-and-a-half."

"I'm working at a level that I'm really happy with. I'm just happy to keep getting chances to do things. And I love to be approached by great young talent just to say hi and talk," he continued, before calling attention to his film Here Today.

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He added, "To get a chance to do that at this point, I'm just really blessed. You wake up every day going, 'All right, got something to do.' And that's a great feeling."

The 27th annual Critics Choice Awards, hosted by Taye Diggs and Nicole Byer, are airing live on The CW and TBS on Sunday at 7 p.m. ET.

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