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Illinois native and UT alumna, Paula Pell, will be awarded the Artistic Achievement Award at the Clarence Brown Theatre’s annual gala to be held  from 7:00-11:00 p.m. Friday, May 20, at Jackson Terminal, 205 W. Jackson Avenue.

Famed behind-the-scenes comedy queen, Pell was a writer for Saturday Night Live for more than twenty years. During her time at SNL, she helped create memorable characters such as the “Spartan Cheerleaders,” and later the middle-school music teachers “The Culps,” in addition to “Debbie Downer.”

Pell has guest-starred and written episodes for 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation. Pell did additional writing for Bridesmaids, This is 40, and The Heat, before writing her own screenplay, Sisters, starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

Pell and fellow UT alum/SNL writer James Anderson star in their own web series, Hudson Valley Ballers, in which they play ex-SNL writers running a bed and breakfast in New York’s Hudson Valley.

“This is going to be fun. Paula has been entertaining us from afar for years,” says Cal MacLean, CBT producing artistic director. “It will be great to welcome her back to her alma mater to celebrate her success. I’m sure we will hear some great stories.”

The CBT Gala benefits the Clarence Brown Theatre Artists Endowment, which helps bring professional guest artists from across the United States to the CBT to engage and teach undergraduate and graduate students, all while creating the world-class, professional theatre experiences Greater Knoxville audiences have come to expect.

Modeled after Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball, gala attendees can expect an elegant evening with lots of laughs. Attendees will enjoy cocktails, followed by a meal with Pell, MacLean, Managing Director David B. Byrd, and passionate theater-goers from the Knoxville area. The evening will also include a live auction for items including tickets to a Saturday Night Live performance and a one-night hotel stay in the Big Apple.

Tickets go on sale Monday, April 18. For more information, contact Amanda Middleton at or 865-974-5654. Corporate and individual sponsorship packages are available.