Intro to “A Colbert Christmas”
On NPR’s weekend edition, Colbert called his campy holiday special, “A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All,” a throwback to vintage Christmas specials popularized by Andy Williams and his brothers. He described the tone as “sincerely strange,” but “strangely sincere.” It was both, and it was also completely fun and entertaining. Variety shows have been missing from US television since the Mandrell sisters in the early 80′s, and Stephen Colbert brings on the return of the holiday variety hour with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek.
The premise of the show is that Colbert is trapped in his mountain cabin because there’s a grizzly bear outside, so he can’t get back to New York City to tape his Christmas Special. As is the rule with variety shows, schlocky comedy is used to fuse together as many special guests as you can fit in and Colbert’s was true to form. Elvis Costello was waiting for Colbert in NYC and on the other end of the phone most of the show. Toby Keith did what some may think was a parody of himself, but I’m not convinced that he didn’t think the whole thing was serious and that his “Red, White & Blue” take on Christmas was alot more heartfelt than it was meant to be. Plus, he was completely lacking in charm, he should have taken some cues from Tim McGraw who was fantastic on SNL this last week.
Toby Keith preview
The first of the three best songs was done by Willie Nelson, who Colbert found in his miniature nativity scene as the fourth wiseman. Willie said he was so high that Colbert was hallucinating. Willie the Wiseman proceeded to sing a beautiful Christmas song about a sweet herb gift to the baby Jesus, that brings peace to friend and stranger, a gift better than frankincense and myrrh. And the wisemen started tokin’ and yea the bud was kind. Dude man, dude. Let not mankind bogart love.
Colbert’s duet with Jon Stewart, “Can I interest you in Hanukkah,” is sure to become a humorous Christmas staple to rival Adam Sandler’s Hannukah Song. Colbert said it’s a “soft sell” of the Jewish holiday as a “sensible alternative to Christmas.” Jon introduces Stephen to kinda joyful, sorta cheery, wouldn’t know from jolly, Hannukkah, and they share an understanding of each other’s holiday while, given the choice, Colbert prefers to keep his own.
Jon Stewart: “Can I Interest You in Hanukkah?” preview
The last of the best original songs on the show (Colbert had all new, original songs for the show because paying royalties for well known ones doesn’t seem very Christmas like to him) belonged to singer John Legend. You will never look at your spice rack the same again, I guarantee you. He sang a song at the piano about the importance of nutmeg in eggnog, his sweet brown nutmeg… Who knew a song about a simple spice could be so steamy?
John Legend: Nutmeg
Still stuck in his cabin, Colbert knelt down to pray that God would grant his Christmas wish to have his own Christmas Special, and was greeting by God’s prayer line answering machine angel, as sung by Feist. All the guest reappear for a song about Peace, Love and Understanding, and in the end a combination of God and Santa make it a Merry Christmas. And as the closing song by Costello and Colbert says, there are much worse things to believe in than the spirit of Christmas.
Even if you’re not a fan of The Colbert Report, you’ll like this new spin on an old show that Colbert put together for the holiday. It’s sweet but funny, campy but charming, and Colbert is a great song and dance man, surprisingly light on his feet! If you like some true funny in your holiday specials, not just corny jokes and soppy sentimentality, you’d do well to check out A Colbert Christmas.
The special aired on Comedy Central last night at 10pm, and can be seen again Tuesday night at 10pm. Here’s a schedule of future airings. The DVD and iTunes video goes on sale for $20 tomorrow, with a portion of sales to benefit Feeding America, America’s Second Harvest.
While we did receive an e-mail from Comedy Central about “A Colbert Christmas” we decided to cover it on our own due to interest in the show and were not paid for this article.
Written by Ceilidh
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