For a generation of Americans, it is one hundred percent impossible to perform a certain cooking preparation task in the kitchen without singing the song titled “The Lady I Know.” However you may recognize this powerful ballad from the song’s more popular title, "Choppin’ Broccoli."
Paul McCartney has “Hey Jude,” Elton John has “Candle In The Wind” and Dana Carvey has… “Choppin’ Broccoli.” This week he returned to The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon to perform a rendition of his cherished masterwork, complete with an orchestra accompaniment. It was beautiful.
It brought a tear to my eye and casued a craving for beef and broccoli. The Saturday Night Live alumni known for the Church Lady, his celebrity impressions, and playing Garth in Wayne’s World forever changed the world of broccoli chopping with a song he has been perfecting for almost thirty years. Here you can see Carvey auditioning for Saturday Night Live in 1986 with the same song; an audition where he had to beat out the likes of Jim Carrey.
The song itself was a spoof of rock ballads, pointing out that if you really listen to the lyrics of popular songs, they are pretty dumb. It sounds like the singer is making them up on the spot as he goes along! However I would argue that over the last twenty-five years it has taken on a new meaning. It has become an anthem of us versus the broccoli. A battle cry for the struggle deep within us to chop broccoli. Here is a rendition of the song as it was used in a sketch during Carvey’s first year on the show in ’86. He plays a singer “Dereck Stevens” meeting with his record company, and he hasn’t finished his demo tape, so he improvises.
Carvey felt so strongly about the message of Choppin’ Broccoli that he again performed it almost ten years after it appeared on Saturday Night Live, during his 1995 HBO comedy special.
I look forward to hearing the 40th anniversary edition of “Choppin’ Broccoli” in 2026.
Do you sing Choppin’ Broccoli when you chop broccoli?
These people got broccoli tattoos because they love to chop broccoli so much!
Chop Broccoli with Phil Haney on Twitter @PhilHaney