I agree with this post by Mark Evanier, about the Mark Twain award being given to Will Ferrell. I, too, haven’t been all that impressed with his work up to now. Recently, I’ve seen him in roles which have led me to somewhat change my mind about him and concede that perhaps he has more talent than I thought, but that’s insufficient reason for winning an award named after Mark Twain.
I would’ve thought that this award should go to someone who’s had a long career, and who has not only used humor to merely entertain, but done so in a way that is also thought-provoking. Oh, and also was a uniquely American voice. Playing amiable dolts, as Will Farrell seems to mostly do, only reaches the level of light entertainment, and only barely.
Tina Fey, who was given the award last year, may perhaps be slightly more deserving, if only for being the mastermind behind the razor sharp 30 Rock. But even she’s hardly someone that I would think is ready for this award (yet). She’s funny, but no more than, say, Janeane Garofalo, or Roseanne Barr.
I might concede that perhaps someone on the awards committee decided that appealing to a younger demographic is the direction to go in, although I somehow doubt that the title of the award matches this goal. (Try The Ashton Kutcher Award. I bet the youngsters would know who that is.) I’ll also grant that the award seems to be given to someone still living — otherwise I’d wonder why not Groucho Marx, Lucille Ball, Will Rogers, Charles Schultz, or James Thurber. Yet I can think of more deserving humorists and comics who are still among the living: Carol Burnett, Mel Brooks, Dave Barry, Joan Rivers, Gary Trudeau or Scott Adams all come to mind as people who might have better qualifications for this award.
Either the Mark Twain award lives up to its pretensions as something awarded to talent that has reached iconic levels, or it becomes merely another overblown, over-hyped award celebrating pop culture — akin to the VH1 Awards.