This most-definitely falls under our umbrella of wonderful, but little-known holiday songs -- it's a hilarious, original song from, of all people, the great folks at Bad Lip Reading. This is their version of Trump singing something that they call "Christmas is Here," along with guest background vocals. Quite a very-offbeat gem, not to be missed. Fa la la...
This is one of my favorite sketches from Saturday Night Live” done in 1999. There are several songs in it, so happily it qualifies for the Music part of the Fest. But it would qualify regardless because, for me, it's all Fest.
I've had a difficult time tracking it down over the years, but finally found it last year. I had code to embed it , but for some reason that doesn't work. I did upload it below, but because it's done with a screen video capture, the sound is a bit tinny. Far better is if you click on this link here, which should bring up a player with the video. Try that first. If for some reason that doesn't work, though, check out the video below.
I swear to you that when I first saw it, I didn’t know who was playing the lead “urchin” in the sketch – in part for the hair and make-up (which is light, but enough), but in part because I was thinking about the main cast members and not at all about who was hosting that week. A few years later I saw a repeat of the show, and halfway through the sketch I almost shouted out, “Oh, my God, that’s Jennifer Aniston!” And so it is. Along with Rachel Dratch, and others. And it’s a hoot.
But other than that second viewing, I haven't see the sketch on TV since. Why on earth SNL doesn't include this in their annual Christmas Special compendium of holiday sketches over the years. It's not only one of their best Christmas sketches, it is, for me as I said, one of their best, period.
This is a bonus version of the Fest today. Bear with me a bit and let me explain...
When the movie musical Scrooge was released in 1970, I remember reading an article by the film's composer-lyricist-screenwriter (and executive producer) Leslie Briscusse saying that they'd done research and discovered that among all the Christmas carols written, there had never been one actually titled, "A Christmas Carol." So, he wrote one, which begins the film over the wonderful opening credits by the great artist, Ronald Searle (who also did the credits for, among other films, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines.)
Here's that song, and those wonderful opening credits.
I mention all this, though, for another reason.
It's that as good a film as Scrooge is, Bricusse's research staff was lousy. Because 14 years before, in 1956, there was a live TV musical version of A Christmas Carol that was called The Stingiest Man in Town and starred the legendary film actor, best known as playing Sherlock Holmes, Basil Rathbone as Scrooge. And the very first song in the show was called -- yes, you guessed it -- "A Christmas Carol."
The music for the show was written by Fred Spielman, with lyrics by Janice Torre. It's not remotely distinguished or memorable, but has quite a few very nice things in it. And there, right at the top, first thing, is a song, "A Christmas Carol." A live TV musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol doesn't seem like a difficult thing to track down for a research staff working on a movie musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol.
So, continuing our holiday theme of unknown Christmas songs from musicals, here is the earlier song, "A Christmas Carol," sung by The Four Lads -- leading into "An Old-Fashioned Christmas" (sung by Vic Damone), from The Stingiest Man in Town. That the researchers couldn't find. But we think you fine folks deserve better... Which is why this isn't the end of the post here. But here's that other song first --
And yes, there's more...
In 1959, which is a full 11 years before the movie musical Scrooge was made, the wonderful Tom Lehrer released his classic comedy album, An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer -- which included a song titled..."A Christmas Carol."
And again, Tom Lehrer was not remotely an unknown entertainer and songwriter. It fact, as popular as An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer was, he was probably around the height of his popularity. His huge hit album, That Was the Year That Was had been released only five years before Scrooge was released. So, how on earth those researchers missed this two songs -- and for all I know there are more, and even high-profile ones -- I have no idea.
Happily, we have this song to enjoy, as well...
Here's the latest from Randy Rainbow. The song is enjoyable, though it's fairly basic, really just a long list of Trump's favorite things (I'm figuring that you can guess the song...), though it's a good list. But he has a fun "interview" with Trump beforehand and well-edited throughout the song.
As we head into the fourth night of Hanukkah, I thought it right and proper to bring back my annual (and unredacted) piece about a new, beloved Hanukkah story. Okay, I'm not really sure how "new" it really is anymore, now that it's been annual for a while, and I've never precisely asked widely how "beloved" it is (somewhat out of self-preservation), but in the Hanukkah spirit of miracles it just makes sense.
Here then is the tale, and the poem that began it all.
Several years back, a mixed group of writer friends was discussing religion, when it veered off track a bit. "A bit" as in, someone whimsically bemoaned that Christmas got all the good colors, while Hanukkah was pretty much stuck with blue and white.
I'm guessing that this wasn't the kind of debates Spinoza or Moses Maimonides ever got into. Though you never know.
Another person decided to raise the holiday spirits, suggesting that since there was an actual, physical limit of primary colors in the world, and therefore nothing could be done about that at this point, perhaps instead a new fable could be created. A few days later, this second fellow and his wife came up with the Twin Dalmatians of Hanukkah, Pinkus and Mordechai. The pups scour the earth to bring hats of joy, filled with treats, to the children on the first night of Hanukkah. Pinkus, the cheerful one, would load them up with tasty goodies, while practical Mordechai with a bell on his collar would leave practical gifts, like slide-rules.
The benefits of this new legend were clear to see. For one, it meant that that you could add a whole new color scheme to the Hanukkah celebration palate for displays across the land and trimmings in stores everywhere - black and white, the Dalmatian decorations! And also, Pinkus and Mordechai "pup helpers" would prance throughout shopping centers to the joy and happy laughter of those with childhood in their hearts. And of course, when you're competing with Rudolph, Frosty, the Little Drummer Boy, Scrooge, Magi, Santa, and so many more, it never hurts to have as many fables as possible to pass down through the generations.
He and his wife wrote a few verses to show what he meant, and I thought an unfinished poem was no way to celebrate the season of holidays, and therefore completed it.
Like all good stories of the season, this one ends with a miracle. My friend went on to create a TV series for ABC a few years later, and then another one for CBS. So, it's good to know that poetry and warm spirit in his heart (along with a touch of lunacy in their heads) had such a positive impact on his life. He also now has a reputation to protect and by his request shall remain nameless.
Since 'tis the season, then 'tis appropriate to finally bring the story out of its dusty pages where it has annually passed from glowing face to glowing face of the few lucky children to hear it told, and when a few years back on the Huffington Post I presented the new fable to the world.
Okay, maybe there haven't been all that many glowing faces, and maybe it's passed Hanukkah this year (man, it came so early this year!!), but it's the holiday season and time of miracles, so anything's possible.
'Twas the night before Hanukkah,
And all through the shul,
Not a creature was stirring,
The meshpocheh was full
With latkes and brisket
And kugel and more.
Through the heads of the kinder
Spun dreidles galore.
But I in my yalmulka,
And she in her wig,
Settled down in our beds
With warm milk (but no pig).
When up on the roof
I heard such a bark
That I yelled "Oy, gevalt"
(To the goyim that's "Hark").
And I knew with a jingle,
Then a second great "woof,"
That jolly ol' Pinkus
Was up on our roof.
Though t'wasn't just Pinkus,
But Mordechai too,
The Hanukkah Puppies--
Those Dalmatian Jews.
So I sprang to my feet
And quick threw on a shmotta.
And I saw our kids' hats
Were now filled with a lotta:
With toys and candy from Pinkus
And from Mordechai, socks.
And for me and the Mrs.
Some bagels and lox.
The dogs silently worked,
As if studying Torah
(Though Pinkus got playful).
Mordechai lit the menorah.
Then straight up the chimney
Pinkus leapt from the floor.
Mordechai politely went out
the front door.
It's hard to explain
The joyous nakhes I felt
As I saw the Dalmatians
Go to hand out more gelt.
And I heard Pinkus bark,
"Kids can have all they want if."
"Happy Hanukkah," said Mordechai.
"And to all a Good Yontif."
In honor of the first night of Hanukkah, we have a favorite along with a couple of bonus versions. The song is the wonderful Tom Lehrer's "Hanukkah in Santa Monica," which has gotten a bit better-known over the years, though what's even less-known is that it was written for Lehrer's appearance on A Prairie Home Companion, the first new song he'd written and performed in public for years, and may be the last one. This was a particular favorite of my dad's, who loved it as well for coming from Tom Lehrer.
And here are the two bonus videos. The first is from the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles, who surprise their holiday audience with this unexpected and wonderfully lively version of the song, giving tribute to the city just a bit down the block.
And finally, this is a wildly-enthusiastic version of the song performed most-appropriately in the Klezmer style (since that pretty much seems to be the inspiration behind how Tom Lehrer wrote the number.) by the group Art of Time
The guest contestant on this week's 'Not My Job' segment of the NPR quiz show Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me! is writer-director Peter Farrelly, who most recently directed the wonderful movie, Green Book -- and who with his brother Bobby co-wrote and co-directed such movies as There's Something About Mary, Dumb and Dumber and Me, Myself and Irene. His interview with host Peter Sagal is quite entertaining -- funny and self-effacing.
Without giving the question or answer, my favorite here is the way he expressed and explained why he was leaning to answer one way to the first question.
I thought that in honor of Trump flying to the G20 Summit in Argentina, I'd show their entry in the "Comedy Against Trumpism" series, making their case why, if American is first, they should at least be second. Alas, Argentina does have a video -- perhaps they don't care where they fit in the food chain -- but there is one for Chile which borders Argentina...and they do mention Argentina in it...so that's the best we can do.
In an interview with the New York Post yesterday, Trump said that he thought he would "never" get the Nobel Peace Prize.
This gave me pause, and I sat back to think of all the other things I predict Trump will "never" get --
A real Purple Heart.
A majority of Americans voting for him.
Total honesty from his staff.
The National League MVP Award.
Respect from actual billionaires.
A sense of compassion.
The NAACP Man of the Year.
A high credit rating.
Electoral votes from California.
A bigger inaugural than Barack Obama.
Invited to a CInco de Mayo block party.
The Nobel Prize in Physics.
A loan from a U.S. bank.
The love of his father.
This will be a twofer. I believe I've posted the first video before, a long while back, but not only has enough time passed to have it again, but it's of a piece with the one to follow.
I've long been a huge fan of Tom Lehrer -- the mathematics professor at M.I.T., Harvard, Wellesley and University of California, Santa Cruz -- who had a very successful side career writing (and performing) wonderfully funny and offbeat songs.
It was a surprise and treat to find that Daniel Radcliffe is a fan, as well, so much so that before appearing as a guest on the BBC's The Graham Norton Show, he learned what is probably Lehrer's most difficult, tongue-twisting song, "The Elements," where every element of the Periodic Table was put to music, so that he could perform it on the show.
Two notes: the first is that when Radcliffe asks if anyone in the audience knows Tom Lehrer, there is near total silence. This is understandable on the one hand, given that Lehrer is an American and not terribly well-known here, and his peak was in the late-'60s, early '70s. On the other hand, it's a little surprising became legendary producer Cameron MacIntosh produced a very success musical review of Lehrer's songs on the West End, called Tom Foolery, so I would have thought the London audience might have a few more people who knew his work.
And the second is that because I think he's thrilled simply that he made it through, Radcliffe leaves off the very short last verse, which is a fun one. More on that in a moment. For now, here's that appearance --
And now for the bonus, twofer part of the evening's entertainment.
This is rare footage of Tom Lehrer himself, performing "The Elements." Complete with that last, very short verse. Actually, there's a full minute of additional material, as well, along with what he refers to as "an earlier version" of the song. (The video shows that it goes on for another half-minute, but it doesn't.) This comes from a 1967 concert in, of all places, Copenhagen.
Daniel Radcliffe delivers a highly-admirable, enthusiastic, a capella version of the song. Challenged even more by having an audience and panel that doesn't know what to make up of it. Tom Lehrer has a piano and adoring audience. And he wrote it. But this is how it goes best --
Robert J. Elisberg is a two-time recipient of the Lucille Ball Award for comedy screenwriting. He's written for film, TV, the stage, and two best-selling novels, is a regular columnist for the Writers Guild of America and was for the Huffington Post. Among his other writing, he has a long-time column on technology (which he sometimes understands), and co-wrote a book on world travel. As a lyricist, he is a member of ASCAP, and has contributed to numerous publications.
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