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Lily Tomlin accepts SAG Life Achievement Award with humour

Last Updated Jan 30, 2017 at 1:40 am EDT

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Lily Tomlin offered advice to young actors and a hearty dose of humour as she accepted the Screen Actors Guild’s Life Achievement Award.

“Don’t leave the house when you’re drunk,” she said to riotous laughter from her fellow actors at the Shrine Auditorium.

“And if you’re already out there, well, you must learn to tell when you’ve had too much to drink. Listen to your friends when they stop talking to you and start talking about you, saying things like, ‘Did she have a purse?’

“Don’t be anxious about missing an opportunity,” she continued. “Behind every failure is an opportunity someone wishes they had missed.”

Dolly Parton presented Tomlin with the statuette at Sunday’s SAG Awards, which features the classic drama masks of comedy and tragedy. As Tomlin accepted it, she turned the trophy so that the sad face was pointed toward the audience.

“Live your life so that when you are being honoured for your achievements, the people called upon to make laudatory remarks can feel reasonably honest about their comments,” Tomlin said. “Otherwise, in these times, all their words or phrases might be perceived as alternative facts — or worse yet, fake news.”

Jane Fonda was previously announced as a co-presenter with Parton, but SAG Awards officials said Fonda wasn’t feeling well Sunday.

A clip package from throughout Tomlin’s five decades in television and film played before she accepted her award.

“Ironically, this award makes you feel not that you’ve done so much,” she said, “but more that you wish you had done so much more to receive an honour like this.”

Asked backstage what she knows now that might have benefited her at the outset of her career, Tomlin said, “I wish I’d known to just be more myself instead of trying to stretch my face, my voice, everything into a character.”

She said that she always knew to use sunscreen, though, even as a youngster, because she used to read her mother’s beauty magazines.

“I think using sunscreen is good advice for men and women, not just women,” Tomlin said. “I don’t want to make that a women’s issue.”

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