With a little more than a week to go, Trump’s inaugural committee was apparently up the creek when it came to getting a single credible marquee name to perform. Obama unsurprisingly had no trouble nabbing Beyoncé, not to mention Aretha Franklin. Even George W. Bush had Ricky “Livin’ la Vida Loca” Martin— who was, to be fair, pretty hot stuff 15 years ago.
But at least so far, our 45th President’s investiture is about as popular a gig as a benefit concert to bring back leprosy. Fox News’s permanently uncapped fire hydrant, Bill O’Reilly, has been reduced to accusing the balky showbiz community of “reverse McCarthyism” —a charge that makes considerably less sense than calling, say, Trump’s coif “reverse hair.”
True, his bookers do have former America’s Got Talent contestant Jackie Evancho lined up to sing the National Anthem, proving that, hey, sometimes your first choice does come through. Unsurprisingly, Trump took credit for the increased sales of Evancho’s Christmas album once her participation went public, and indeed they did go through the roof—from 6,000 units a week earlier all the way up to a whopping 11,000 the next, which did happen to be, ahem, Christmas week. (Another job saved by PEOTUS, folks.) But even D.C.’s high-school marching bands don’t want to be in the parade, which is just sad.
They aren’t alone. Even the Rockettes, who are on the bill, had to announce that any dancers who want to opt out are at liberty to do so. One member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir—yes, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir—chose to quit rather than perform. Meanwhile, onetime X Factor runner-up Rebecca Ferguson said she’d gladly accept her own invite to play the gig, but only on condition she gets to sing “Strange Fruit,” the scorching anti-lynching song first made famous by Billie Holliday. Of course, that’s not happening.
As for netting bigger fish, the Inaugural Committee announced today that Toby Keith, Broadway’s Jennifer Holliday and turn-of-the-century rockers 3 Doors Down have all signed on. Before that announcement, however, one unconfirmed report claimed that Trump’s people were reduced to offering not only major bucks (not the norm) but ambassadorships (definitely not the norm). Sure, because three years in freaking Ouagadougou is precisely the escape from celebrity Miley Cyrus has been looking for. But whether or not that rumor is true, we think they haven’t cast a wide enough net. Like good patriots, we want to help. Meet some potential alternative headliners for January 20’s “Making America Grate on Everyone Again” extravaganza.
1. Don Rickles
Now 90 years old, Rickles doesn’t work much these days. But as Vanity Fair’s James Wolcott noticed a year ago, Trump’s campaign owed a considerable creative debt to America’s greatest insult comic. What better way to say adios than by passing the torch to a new generation? Adding Rickles to the proceedings could give a whole new meaning to “swearing in.”
He’s been hiding out in Kalamazoo much too long.
3. Boris And Natasha Badanov
They’re cartoon characters, yes. But Charlie Brown and Snoopy were wrong about this country, and Boris and Natasha were right. This video explains a lot.
4. Charles Manson
True, he’s ailing, but California’s most famous maximum-security inmate is a failed singer-songwriter who might never have turned to slaughter if the Beach Boys had been nicer to him. Besides, he presciently carved a swastika into his forehead years ago, so he’s got the alt-right look down pat. Isn’t it time we heard his version of “Helter Skelter”?
If our incoming President truly wants to turn Washington upside down, nobody does it better than the Zil. The Japanese would probably be happy to swap him to us in exchange for a few nukes, once again proving Trump’s mastery of the art of the deal. Let’s rename the National Mall the National Maul and have done with it: so long, Department of Energy! Goodbye, EPA!
6. Joseph Pujol
Sadly, the French artist known as “Le Petomane,” the only performer ever to turn farting into a lucrative career, died in 1945. A Pulitzer Prize-winning music critic of our acquaintance once lamented that Le Petomane never recorded, but it turns out he was wrong—and that’s why America is in luck. During Trump’s inaugural address, feel free to mute the TV and turn this up instead.