For at least the last few years, The Kennedy Center Honors have been quite a mix of tone and taste. They air late on CBS, yet utilize NPR's Carl Kassel and tend to appeal to an older, classy audience. For those of us caught in the middle, this tends to produce some fun moments — like Pentatonix honoring Tom Hanks. What does a Youtube sensation and winner of The Sing-Off have to do with "that guy from Castaway"? I wouldn't even expect Tom Hanks to know who Pentatonix is, but he seemed to be bopping right along. Last year, Anna Kendrick sang a tribute to Shirley MacClaine. Are we just going through the whole Pitch Perfect franchise cast? Will Rebel Wilson be honoring Nicole Kidman next year? This is, incidentally, why I think Stephen Colbert was the perfect choice for hosting. Nobody bridges the gap between high brow and low like him. He got the biggest laugh of the evening by standing silently behind David Letterman, who introduced Tom Hanks, until Letterman shoo'd him off with a "not yet".
Pentatonix sang a personalized cover of the title song from the 1996 Hanks movie That Thing You Do . Were the new lyrics a little cheesy for you? The pun fun didn't stop there. Three of Broadway's finest ladies, Laura Benanti, Kelli O'Hara and Jessie Meuller, took over the next singing tribute with the Gershwin song "They Can't Take That Away From Me" and more personalized lyrics. Then, the program got weird. The salute to the actor who brought us Forrest Gump, Big and "there's no crying in baseball" continued with a rousing rendition of "Yankee Doodle Dandy." It was lead by Martin Short, a military band and featuring... this kid? Because when you think Tom Hanks, this is what comes to mind.
You and me both, Hanks. You and me both.