“Can I Interest You in Hanukkah?”

This article in today’s New York Times on interfaith families celebrating the December feasts reminded me to put up the clip of Jon and Stephen’s duet from the Colbert Christmas special. I found it interesting that most of the couples interviewed in the article were Jewish and Catholic (as are Jon Stewart and his wife). Or maybe not all that unusual given the New York demographics…..

I love this song. It’s quite possibly my favorite from the special. Although I don’t think it’s quite fair that it focuses on the secular aspects of Hanukkah and the religious aspects of Christmas. But then that’s an underlying issue in this whole crazy time of year. Culture, commercialism, family traditions and religious roots get all jumbled together.

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The Greatest Gift of All

Stephen’s Christmas special premiered Sunday, November 23rd, and I’m sure Comedy Central will have it in regular rotation from now until Christmas. It’s also available on DVD with extras such as an Advent calendar of clips and a Yule log/book burning fireplace for your TV. In two days I’ve discovered that it’s one of those shows that gets funnier with each viewing. The first time I was a bit off-balance, not knowing quite what to expect. It’s like a Russian doll of nested parodies: the years of TV Christmas specials, bits familiar from the Report (bears, the War on Christmas), and all the guest musical stars parodying themselves. Stephen’s children have a small cameo.

Commercialism, multicultural sensitivity, the weird secular attempts to find meaning apart from religion–predictably nothing is sacred, including the sacred. At one point Stephen starts a seemingly heartfelt prayer and then throws in the line, “First time pray-er, longtime fan.” Canadian indie singer Feist’s number “Please Be Patient” combines angels and overworked customer service operators. But while it may cross a good-taste line from time to time, it never strays into the offensive.

Comments welcome! I think it lives up to its hype.

I’ll add some clips in the next few days, but at the moment I’m having trouble with the embedding code. It looks like they’re all up at the Colbert Nation site.