Tiny Tim Performs a Bizarre Cover of Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” on The Tonight Show (1979)

In 1979, cult musi­cian Tiny Tim ditched his ukulele and tip­toed out of the tulips to cov­er Rod Stew­art’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” on The Tonight Show, above.

The Gong Show-wor­thy per­for­mance left host John­ny Car­son—and pre­sum­ably the major­i­ty of home viewers—speechless.

Was it com­e­dy or a fad­ing, men­tal­ly unbal­anced nov­el­ty act’s attempt to rekin­dle the pas­sion of a fick­le spot­light?

Maybe just a par­tic­u­lar­ly unbri­dled for­ay into new artis­tic ter­ri­to­ry… Like his elab­o­rate­ly for­mal man­ners, Tiny Tim’s usu­al reper­toire harkened to an ear­li­er peri­od. (“No one knew more about old music than Tiny Tim,” Bob Dylan once remarked.)

His odd­ly demure com­port­ment is in short sup­ply here as he veers from his cus­tom­ary falset­to to a more man­ly low­er reg­is­ter, strip­ping off jack­et and braces to show­case a port­ly, mid­dle aged mid-sec­tion. Musi­cian­ship also seems a bit want­i­ng, though to be fair, that’s rarely the cri­te­ria by which we mea­sure the suc­cess of an act that ends with writhing on the floor.

What­ev­er his inten­tions, Tiny Tim’s place in the annals of WTF per­for­mance his­to­ry would be secured on this turn alone.

A few years lat­er, he record­ed a 20s-tinged “Do Ya Think I”m Sexy” with Gary Lawrence & His Siz­zling Syn­co­pa­tors, released inside a greet­ing card as a 6” flexi disc. The video,  below, hon­ors his vin­tage sen­si­bil­i­ties while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly scream­ing 1982.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The 15 Worst Cov­ers of Bea­t­les Songs: William Shat­ner, Bill Cos­by, Tiny Tim, Sean Con­nery & Your Excel­lent Picks

George Har­ri­son Explains Why Every­one Should Play the Ukulele, With Words and Music

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