Although it still exists today, Chuck E. Cheese still feels like something of a cultural artifact, an entity that didn’t really manage to escape the ’90s. The company’s management seems to recognize this, so it was recently announced that they’re looking to turn the restaurant into a more “modern experience.” Part of that modern experience sadly includes the phasing out of Munch’s Make Believe Band, the animatronic music group that features the one and only Charles Entertainment Cheese (yes, that’s his actual full name) and is known for hits like “Friendship Never Ends” and “Together We’ve Got It.”
“It’s the biggest thing we’ve done for the look and feel of Chuck E. Cheese for two decades,” Chief Executive Tom Leverton said. “The kids stopped looking at the animatronics years and years ago, and they would wait for the live Chuck E. to come out.”
Some fans are taking the news pretty hard, but perhaps nobody is having a tougher time coping with the loss than Father John Misty. After taking some time to process everything, the musician posted a lengthy eulogy for the band on his Facebook page, a move he admits is atypical of him but one fueled by “the shock and sadness I feel over losing this artist.”
In his ode, he admires how “this motherf**ker was playing up to 5 sets a night all over the country simultaneously,” compared the rodent to “Frank f**king Sinatra,” and praised him for sticking to his guns in the midst of a changing and increasingly shallow culture.
Father John Misty has a catalog filled with powerful and moving works, but this may be his finest yet. Find the hilarious Facebook post here, or read it below.
“I typically don’t eulogize over social media, but the shock and sadness I feel over losing this artist compelled me to humbly offer a few words in rememberence…
I started having birthdays at a very, very young age. As was the custom in pre-suburban Maryland, at the behest of my parents a dozen or so friends from school and church would join us at Chuck E. Cheese for pizza, games of skill and various proto-gambling amusements followed by gifts, cake, what have you.
Having been a professional musician for a few years now, I can appreciate firsthand not only the strain of trying to sustain a flow of creativity for so long but the rigorous, pretty unexotic feat of physical endurance just getting through a few hundred shows a year, plus all the travel, is. When I consider that this motherf**ker was playing up to 5 sets a night all over the country simultaneously i am reminded that, yes, it can be done, and that just by getting on that stage every night and leaving everything up there, I am part of lineage, of a collective imagination that spans the generations. How he maintained that smile on his face, playing so consistently and with such little flash (even though I’m sure some nights he just wanted to stretch out and make it all about himself) is beyond me.
None of this, however, has anything to do with why I fell in love with this mans playing. Chuck was an interpreter. He didn’t write much, outside of his seminal “Happy Birthday” but neither did Frank fucking Sinatra. Like Sinatra, Chuck wasn’t “the best”. But he had a style, and style cannot be taught; something we tend to forget in this era of manufactured pop stars. Max Martin would’ve had nothing to do with Cheese. He was a little thick around the waste, and certainly refused to change with protean fads in the culture.
He was never political, but he didn’t need to be. Neoliberalism had just left the think tanks and had been deployed in service of combatting the rampant stagflation that had bedeviled the economy of the 70’s. Chuck embodied the American ideal of the time while presaging the alternative currencies that we’d see 30 years later.
This man introduced me to music. Though the world may have moved on, the music remains.
Goodbye Chuck E.”
There may not be anything so heartfelt ever written by a lip-synching robot mouse in the history of mankind.