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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Smokey Robinson isn't sure what a "Cha-noo-kah" is, but he's wishing you a happy one anyway

Illustration for article titled Smokey Robinson isnt sure what a Cha-noo-kah is, but hes wishing you a happy one anyway
Photo: Leon Bennett/ STA 2020 (Getty Images)

Motown icon Smokey Robinson is, like so many celebrities, willing to record a message about pretty much whatever you want on Cameo. We’ve seen this unprecedented level of consumer power used to turn famous people into ventriloquist dolls willing to talk about everything from stupid apps, furry conventions, John Mulaney bits, and potty training to dramatic coloring book readings and prank break-up messages. Jeff Jacobson wasn’t looking for anything as ridiculous as these examples when he commissioned Robinson for a Hanukkah message, but he ended up with an unexpectedly fantastic video just the same.

Jacobson tweeted out the clip, prefacing it by saying his “mom grew up on the same street as Smokey Robinson in Detroit” and thought it would be nice to acknowledge that by presenting her with a Cameo Hanukkah message. It all starts off normally enough before taking an unexpected turn before the end. A friendly Robinson, perched before a wall of photos, explains how he was contacted and then wishes Jacobson’s mom a “happy Cha-noo-kah.”


“I have no idea what Cha-noo-kah is, but happy Cha-noo-kah because they said so,” he continues, laughing. “Anyway, god bless you, babe, and enjoy Cha-noo-kah. Have a wonderful time.”

To be fair, Robinson probably just hasn’t seen the holiday written as “Chanukah” as often as “Hanukkah.” And, as funny as his “happy Cha-noo-kah” message is, Jacobson obviously isn’t very put out by the mispronunciation. He got a great video out of it and, as he puts it, “Smokey Robinson can pronounce it any way he damn well pleases.”

For his part, Robinson has requested “a do-over” in the form of calling up Jacobson’s mom “so we can try this again.” This is a great gesture, but probably isn’t even necessary. Robinson has simply created a brand new term for Hanukkah, a simple mistake giving the world another nickname for the holiday.


Maybe, based on his innovations in the field of Hanukkah pronunciations, Robinson can even gather enough “Cha-noo-kah” commissions that he upends Kevin from The Office’s title as Cameo’s top earner.


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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.

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