Al Franken “Doggone it people like you” to Receive the Ernie Kovacs Award

Written by Kelly Kitchens

Dallas VideoFest is proud to award comedian and former US Senator Al Franken, best known for his work on the NBC staple, “Saturday Night Live,” with the coveted Ernie Kovacs Award at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, at the Texas Theatre (231 W. Jefferson Blvd. – Oak Cliff/Dallas). Immediately following the Kovacs event, DVF will show the 2006 documentary, AL FRANKEN: GOD SPOKE. VIP meet-and-greet reception with Al Franken upstairs at the Texas Theatre and; event and film downstairs at the Texas.

To purchase tickets, go to

Ernie Kovacs has been a key component of the Dallas VideoFest since the Festival began in 1987. Franken will be on hand to receive the award from Dallas VideoFest’s Founder and Artistic Director Bart Weiss. Joshua Mills, son of Edie Adams and keeper of the Kovacs flame, will also attend.

Of course, Al Franken

Throughout the 15 years Franken was associated with “Saturday Night Live” starting with the very first show in 1975, he wrote, performed in and produced hundreds of sketches, including the well-known and often recited “Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley.” Franken won five Emmys for writing and producing during his 15 seasons with “SNL.”

Al Franken on learning he would be the recipient of the 2022 Ernie Kovacs Award:

“Ernie Kovacs’ influence on comedians of my generation is not often told these days. I was maybe ten years old when I first watched ‘The Ernie Kovacs Show.’ Like many young avid fans of comedy, I was immediately struck by his wholehearted and brilliant embrace of absurdity. The Nairobi Trio, for example, was nothing like anything anyone had ever seen. Many comedians today talk about the tremendous influence of David Letterman and Conan O’Brien – and deservedly so. Both have inspired today’s generation of comedians in the same way that Kovacs inspired me and so many others. I am humbled that the Dallas VideoFest is honoring me with The Ernie Kovacs Award. I’m not sure I deserve it.”

Bart Weiss, founder/artistic director of Dallas VideoFest, on the importance of Ernie Kovacs:

”The very first program of our festival in 1987 was Edie Adams showing the work of Ernie Kovacs. Ernie’s innovative spirit has been with us these 35 years. The Kovacs Award became the perfect way to honor those whose comedy change the way we look at TV/Video much like Kovacs did.

“One can draw a very clear line between Ernie Kovacs’ characters like Percy Dovetonsils and Al Franken’s Stuart Smalley. Both understood how to harness the power of TV comedy to help us see the world differently.

“Yes, Al, we obviously think you are good enough, smart enough and doggone it people like you.”

Joshua Mills, Edie Adams’s son and keeper of Ernie Kovacs Estate:
“Al Franken’s humor, his dry wit and his irreverent characters are part of a long comedy continuum that connects everyone and everything from Ernie Kovacs to Monty Python to David Letterman, Conan O’Brien and others who helped shaped modern comedy. From Stuart Smalley to Medieval Barber Theodoric of York, it’s about time we usher in the Al Franken Decade in 2022 with The Ernie Kovacs Award.”

About Al Franken
As far as anyone knows, Al Franken is the only U.S. Senator who was also one of the original writers for “Saturday Night Live.”

He’s also the author of four #1 New York Times bestsellers, including “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations,” “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them – A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right,” and “Al Franken, Giant of the Senate.”

Franken served Minnesota in the Senate from 2009-2018, clobbering his first opponent, incumbent Senator Norm Coleman, by 312 votes. He won his second election by well over 200,000 votes. Franken served on the Judiciary, Energy, Indian Affairs, and HELP (Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions) Committees where he routinely embarrassed badly prepared witnesses and was a fierce opponent of media concentration, mandatory arbitration, and Betsy DeVos.

“The Al Franken Podcast” is one of the nation’s top-ten politics and public affairs podcasts with guests like Malcolm Nance, Sarah Silverman, Paul Krugman, Chris Rock, and Michelle Obama. Well, not Michelle Obama but guests like her.

His political action committee, Midwest Values PAC, supports progressive Democrats, voting rights, and a host of other good, non-political things.

Al and his wife, Franni, have been married for 45 years, many of them happy. They have two kids and four grandchildren.

About the Ernie Kovacs Award
The Ernie Kovacs Award recognizes the career and talents of some of television’s greatest visionaries. Kovacs’ work in the 1950s and early 1960s summed up the spirit of innovation and the development of the language of television as art.

The Dallas VideoFest and the Video Association of Dallas announced the first Ernie Kovacs Award at the 1997 festival. Comedian Joel Hodgson of “Mystery Science 3000” was the first recipient and subsequent honorees have included Terry Gilliam and – our last recipient in 2019 – John Cleese, both of “Monty Python;” Robert Smigel, writer/performer of “Saturday Night Live” and “Late Night with Conan O’Brien;” Paul “Pee-wee Herman” Reubens; Martin Mull; Mike Judge; George Schlatter, creator of “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In;” Harry Shearer, “This is Spinal Tap” and “The Simpsons;” Michael Nesmith; Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald of “The Kids in the Hall, in 2017;” and Amy Sedaris, the first woman to receive the Ernie Kovacs Award in 2018.

Actress Edie Adams (, Kovacs’ widow, came to Dallas to host the awards program annually until her death in 2008. Today, Edie’s son, Joshua Mills runs Ediad Productions the video and audio archive of both Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams. As the official archivist for the Ernie Kovacs/Edie Adams (Ediad) Collection, Ben Model curated the “Ernie Kovacs Collection” DVD box sets for Shout! Factory, as well as the box set of “Here’s Edie” shows for MVD.

About the author

Kelly Kitchens

Kelly J Kitchens (Wickersham), film publicist

As an editor and feature writer, Kelly J. Kitchens found herself engrossed in North Texas’ arts, entertainment, leisure/hospitality and fund-raising events scene in the early and mid-'90s where she was a feature writer, critic and editor for a weekly arts and entertainment magazine in Dallas called The Met. Her love of film, music, art, theater and worthy causes drove her to then pursue the publicity side of the media business in 1995. Kelly has been honored by being named a “master publicist” in the Fort Worth Business Press and an “ace media maven” in The Dallas Morning News.

For more than 25 years, Kelly has had her hand in much of the Dallas film world. For instance, she publicized Angelika Film Centers openings in Dallas and Plano and the revitalization of Houston’s Angelika. She is the director of press and publicity for several area film festivals and independent films playing at other film festivals. And in 2022, she plans to return to be the publicist for Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas in DFW.

During the pandemic, Kelly wasn’t sure where her career would take her. Fortunately, she was able to help save Thin Line Film Festival, Dallas VideoFest's DocuFest and AltFiction Fest, Pegasus Film Festival, among other film festivals as they turned to go virtual instead of canceling.

As the world emerges from the pandemic, Kelly is working on publicity for Pegasus Media Project, Who Needs Sleep Telethon, as well as several films making their ways into the festival circuit and an Amazon series nominated for a Daytime Emmy, #WASHED.

One of Kelly’s specialties is her Media Roundtables. RTs are modified press conferences that turn into conversations and virtual film schools with filmmakers, festival directors and anyone else she happens to be working with at the time. Get a feel for these media roundtables at this YouTube playlist: