Over at the Kennedy Center, they just gave the 2012 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor to Ellen Degeneres.
I’m going to make a bold guess that the 2013 winner of the Twain Prize is going to be George Lopez. Or “Cheech” Marin. Or maybe even Horatio Sanz.
Kennedy Center chairman Michael Kaiser is in a pickle. Hispanic activists are after him because the more prestigious Kennedy Center Honors have only recognized two Hispanics in 35 years. Things only got worse Kaiser told Felix Sanchez of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts to “f--- off” during a heated telephone call about the perceived racial snub. Kaiser apologized, saying Sanchez’s complaint would “be given serious consideration.”
That means it’s almost a lock that there will be at least one Hispanic recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors next year. But it’s also a very good bet that a Hispanic will get the comedy prize as well. Why not let it play a role in the Kennedy Center’s new era of identity politics?
After all, the Twain Prize is already becoming more political by the year.
At this year’s ceremony honoring Degeneres, reports described it as more of a celebration of her homosexual advocacy. Since coming out of the closet in 1997, her social activism seems to have eclipsed her comedy.
For instance, honoring this transformation from joke-teller to truth-teller, Lily Tomlin said of DeGeneres: “She went from stand-up [comedy] to standing for something.”
In an acknowledgement of the event being an elitist nose-thumbing at conservatives, actor/comedian John Leguizamo chortled: “How about that? A gay woman on PBS — with public money and the Kennedys. It’s like a Tea Party’s worst nightmare.”