Julia Louis-Dreyfus Recalls When She First Realized She's Funny: 'I Stuck Raisins in My Nose'

The actress won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the John F. Kennedy Center

Julia Louis-Dreyfus was a comedian from the get-go.

Before taking home the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, the Veep star told PEOPLE about the first time that she realized that she could make others laugh.

“I stuck raisins in my nose at a very young age, and my mother laughed,” she said.

The joke had consequences. “We went to the emergency room because she couldn’t get them out,” added Louis-Dreyfus, 57.

Stephen Colbert, Bryan Cranston, Tina Fey, Ilana Glazer, Abbi Jacobson, Jack Johnson, Keegan-Michael Key, Lisa Kudrow, Kumail Nanjiani, Tony Hale and Jerry Seinfeld all attended the ceremony to celebrate her achievement.

21st Annual Mark Twain Prize For American Humor

“I feel like there are some comedians who consider physical comedy to be beneath them or something, but she shows that to be a real comedian you have to be able to do everything, and she does everything in such a real way,” Nanjiani gushed to PEOPLE.

Scott Suchman

“I think with comedy there’s a big trust, so we have a trust with each other,” her Veep costar Hale said. “You’re not wondering, ‘Are we going to be on the same page?’ We already know. You just kind of feel like you’re riding this comic wave together.”

21st Annual Mark Twain Prize to Julia Louis-Dreyfus - Arrivals, Washington, USA - 20 Oct 2018

“I don’t think Julia has changed at all. We see each other every once a while, and it’s always great,” Seinfeld said of Louis-Dreyfus, with whom he starred on Seinfeld. “I feel that way about all the cast members. We were in love with each other, the four of us — honestly, absolutely head-over-heels in love with each other.”

21st Annual Mark Twain Prize to Julia Louis-Dreyfus - Arrivals, Washington, USA - 20 Oct 2018
Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

As she accepted the Mark Twain Prize, Louis-Dreyfus took swipes at President Donald Trump and Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Louis-Dreyfus, who went to the same high school that Kavanaugh’s accuser Christine Blasey Ford did, signed a letter in support of Ford in September.

“Unfortunately the President of the United States didn’t make it over [here tonight], though he lives in the neighborhood Mondays through Wednesdays,” she quipped.

Of the Kavanaugh hearings, Louis-Dreyfus joked, “For God’s sake, the man has suffered enough!”

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