It’s Time for Weird Al to Receive Kennedy Center Honors
Now that the hubub from Weird Al Yankovic’s eight straight days of new music videos has subsided somewhat, I’d like to make a suggestion that is completely serious and in no way jokey:
I’d like to see Weird Al receive the Kennedy Center Honors.
You should know the honors if you don’t: CBS usually broadcasts the show during Christmas week, when nothing else is on, and the event pays tribute to America’s greatest living artists. They sit in a box seat with the president and everybody loves them. You get a mix of high-brow culture (Yo-Yo Ma was a recent inductee) with stuff that’s maybe more middlebrow (David Letterman). It’s not the kind of place you typically find song parodies.
But that’s OK, because Weird Al is anything but typical: He’s been doing this stuff almost 40 years: His first song, “Belevedere Cruisin’” — about his family’s beloved car — was played on the great Dr. Demento show in 1976.
Since then, he’s given us this:
And, gloriously, this:
Look back: That’s an amazing array of styles and musical performances — a breadth that covers the last four decades of popular music in a way no other single artist can match.
So does Weird Al deserve it? Or is his brand of humor too … juvenile? Let’s face it: You either love this stuff or you don’t. (And if you don’t, you’re probably a self-serious boob with humor problems.)
The Kennedy Center’s nomination page says only this about artists to be honored: “The Kennedy Center Honors provide recognition to living individuals who throughout their lifetimes have made significant contributions to American culture through the performing arts. The primary criterion is excellence, and artistic achievement in dance, music, theater, opera, motion pictures, and television is considered.”
Artistic achievement? Well, Mel Brooks received the honor a few years back, mostly on the strength of movies featuring fart jokes, Yiddishisms, and the same kind of pop culture parodies that Weird Al does today. What is Spaceballs but the movie version of a Weird Al song?
So yeah, Weird Al should get in. If you agree, go to the Kennedy Center Honors page and make your own nomination.
Follow @JoelMMathis on Twitter.