Eddie Izzard was hailed as "frankly unstoppable" by Sir Lenny Henry as he presented "the most popular stand-up comedian in the world" with the outstanding achievement prize at the South Bank Sky Arts Awards.
In a tribute video that included Frank Skinner and Peter Gabriel, Eddie was called "a father figure to (Monty) Python" by Michael Palin and a "magic act" by Terry Gilliam.
The star looked close to tears as he stood on stage after watching the video, before delivering an impassioned speech to remain in the EU to the assembled guests.
He said: "I'm trying to do things, they talk about negative campaigning in the European Union, I'm trying to live and breathe a positive campaign. Being a transgender guy, doing gigs in German, running marathons, I'm just trying to head forward, surely so human beings, all seven billion of us, have a fair life."
He continued: "Europe is the first ever continent to try and do this.
"(People say) 'It's very difficult, too bureaucratic, difficult'. Yeah, but that's the direction you've got to head, to move forwards as humanity, by heading forward not backwards. That's why I'm positive about staying in."
Eddie is performing in Normandy on Monday in German, French and English, to commemorate how far Europe has moved on since the Second World War.
He said: "Surely we have to take the risk, we have to go out there and do things like this. It's up to us to go out and march ahead.
"So I'm going to fight for every day of my life for all of us to have a fair chance and I know people in this country are having a tough time but surely we head forwards."