ICYMI: Jingles All The Way

Christmas is so close we can taste it! Pump up the jamz with these holiday songs by some of our favorite Jewish artists! Because, obviously.

Playlist of the Month: Christmas Songs by Jewish Artists

Hanukkah 2015 is already in the books. That means that from this point onward, people of all religions can focus on that other December holiday: Christmas. Sure, if we’re getting technical about it Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus – but it’s also turned into a cultural celebration where we put our differences aside and eat cutout cookies, decorate trees, and jam out to the likes of Barbra Streisand and Amy Winehouse. Who better to sing Happy Birthday to one of the most famous Jewish babies in the world?

Traci’s Picks

The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
Mel Torme and Judy Garland

This tune is one of the iconic Christmas songs we all know and love, but did you known it was written by two Jews? Mel Torme and Bob Wells wrote it in 1945 in the middle of summer in an effort to cool down. Truth. Bob was randomly writing down wintery things on a notepad like, “Yuletide carols” and “Jackfrost” and “folks dressed up like Eskimos” because he was so damn hot, but when Mel (who was 19 at the time) took a look at it he saw them as song lyrics. The rest is history. This version features Mel on Judy Garland’s self-titled TV show, and also includes a sly Over the Rainbow ref. This is the kind of song that just warms your heart.

Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)
The Ramones

This is my second-favorite song about sparring on Christmas (after the fantastic Fairytale of New York) – and it proves that you don’t have to grow up celebrating Christmas to know that it’s a holiday that sparks a lot of arguments.


You know what else is a great holiday song that’s Jew-centric? Christmas for the Jews from SNL. As classic as Jingle Bells.

Laughing All The Way: The Best SNL Holiday Sketches

The holidays are a time for being with friends and family, giving presents, getting presents, eating too much, etc. etc. And at the root of all this is something so simple – cheer. We revel in being around people and doing things that make us happy, because that’s what this time of year is all about.

One of the things that make us joyful, not only during Christmas but all year round, is Saturday Night Live. It has a storied history of making viewers laugh every Saturday night, and in December, there are sketches that dreams are made of. For our final December playlist installment, we present to you the sketches that make us laugh, make us cry from laughing, that just make us happy. And hopefully you’ll catch the contagious cheer this season and all year round.

Molly’s Picks

Consumer Probe (1976)

I’m going to yank you back into memory lane for a second. I started watching SNL regularly when I was 10 or so, because I’m the fourth kid and my parents DGAF. But before that, I’d get to stay up and watch when my family swarmed my grandparents’ house for the holidays. Around Christmas, that often meant ancient repeats or compilation episodes, which is how I got acquainted with the original Not Ready For Primetime Players. This sketch, with Dan Aykroyd schilling unsafe children’s toys like Bag O’ Glass and Johnny Switchblade, played right into my silly little-kid comedy sensibilities. As a grownup, I find it even funnier. [watch here]

Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood (1984)

Would I find this one so funny if, during the Cabbage Patch craze, my uncle hadn’t sold my parents a bootleg Cabbage Patch Kid that was stuffed with gasoline-soaked rags? They took the rags out, restuffed it, and gave it to my siblings. We’re all adults now so I think I can write that without fear of us being removed from their custody. Anyway, I think the answer is yes. Yes, I would still find it so funny.

Steve Martin’s Holiday Wish (1986)

At Christmastime, we all say stupid stuff about wanting world peace and for the children of the world to join hands in perfect harmony or whatever, but deep down, we all want stuff. Stuff, and revenge.

The Sweeney Sisters Bells Medley (1986)

Watching Nora Dunn and Jan Hooks’ characters try a bit too hard to sell the unfunny Christmas banter and the Carol Of The Bells now just makes me think of how darn funny Jan Hooks was. Which reminds me of another family Christmas tradition – my pessimistic grandmother chiming “laugh today, cry tomorrow!” over the laughter of children.  [watch here]

Dysfunctional Family Christmas (1990)

Is your family passive-aggressive, or just aggressive-aggressive? Is your only family tradition disappointing your parents and drinking to forget? Does someone always call someone else fat? Then screw Jingle Bells, this should be the soundtrack to your family festivities. [watch here]

Mary Katherine Gallagher’s Christmas Concert (1996)

This is 90s as heck: Molly Shannon’s Mary Katherine Gallagher character, Rosie O’Donnell as a Catholic school nun, Penny Marshall on piano, and Whitney Houston as that one girl who gets all the solos. This is the cast that was on SNL when I started watching religiously, and rewatching this sketch reminds me that I came in at a good time. [watch here]

Martha Stewart’s Topless Christmas Special (1996)

Once again, take yourself back to the 90s. Before the market was saturated with celebrity chefs and DIY empires, Martha Stewart was the WASP-y face of American perfectionism. Ana Gasteyer posing with a boys’ choir while wearing just a dickie cracked me up in 1996 – and it still does.

The Narrator That Ruined Christmas (2001)

We were all so unmoored those first months after 9/11 that it felt disrespectful to do anything without acknowledging that something awful had happened. Even our high school homecoming t-shirts had an American flag on the back that year. I was reminded of that last month, when my family drove through an outdoor light display. There, in megawatt glow, were the twin towers with the words “Never Forgotten” underneath. I’m sure that display was purchased in Christmas 2001, when it felt like even a charity light setup should nod to our collective grief. Anyway, that’s how my 5-year-old nephew learned about 9/11.  This Saturday TV Funhouse takes you right back to that feeling, with the stop-motion snowman narrator giving up on holiday joy. Writers of this one included Stephen Colbert and Louis CK.

Two A-Holes In A Live Nativity Scene (2007)

The two a-holes are recurring characters that never really got their due. They played off the mid-2000s reality tv, conspicuous consumption, vocal fry trope, and you will never hear “myrrh” the same way again. [watch here]

Do It On My Twin Bed (2013)

This music video highlights how solid the current female cast is. Lil Baby Aidy and the gang are the stars of this “funny because it’s true” new classic: everything, from surly neighbor Jean to a high-status family member sprawling out in the guest suite, from the awkward junior high photos to the time capsule-like childhood bedroom, is part of the Christmas experience when you’re spending the holidays with your family.

Traci’s Picks

Motivational Santa (1994)

I got into SNL around middle school, so like the Cheerleaders, Superstar, Leon Phelps, Mango era. I didn’t do my research before that and admittedly have only seen a select sketches from anything before like 1996. Among those select sketches was Chris Farley as Motivational Speaker, Matt Foley. You know, the guy who lives in a van down by the river? He sometimes moonlights as a Santa, therefore making him a Motivational Santa that is even more frightening and alarming than ever before. Screen your Santa before taking your kids to them, folks. {watch video here}

Delicious Dish (1998)

This sketch is not only one of the most famous holiday sketches but SNL sketches of all time. As NPR hosts, Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon have the perfect tone to their voice as they talk about culinary delights on their talk show. When Alec Baldwin joins them, the NPR ladies secured themselves in the SNL Hall of Fame. Of course throughout the sketch, they make double entendres left and right, but it isn’t until Alec says, “No one can resist the taste of my Schweddy Balls”, did the audience go crazy and millions of viewers knew the skit would go down in history.

Wish it Was Christmas Today (2000)

I am a total FalPal (Jimmy Fallon fan, obvs). My love for Jimmy started around his era on SNL. This particular sketch I remember finding so ridiculous, yet so catchy. My friend and I used to crush of Jimmy  so hard and just sing this song a lot, which is definitely not annoying at all. While it started as a Christmas sketch, they went on to do it multiple times, altering the lyrics for different holidays. While I am a purist and enjoy the OG one from 2000 the most, the 2011 version when Horatio, Chris and Tracy surprised everyone while Jimbo was hosting, comes in at a close second.

Weekend Update Characters

It was already extremely hard for us to pick our favorites for this list because we are insane and just love SNL, so here’s a group of the best recurring characters of Weekend Update and their Christmas-themed visits to the desk.

This segment has everything – Tranderson Cooper, Taylor Negron, Kite Enthusiasts and human parking cones (it’s that thing of when two jacked midgets paint themselves orange and you have to parallel park between them).

Kids today just leave Santa almond milk and Instagraham crackers. Can you put some quinoa in my spin class, please?

Look, I loved when Cecily was at the desk with Seth, but I’m also glad she’s not on the desk anymore so she can do this character. Everything coming out of her mouth is ridiculous and perfect.

Oh, how I love Garth and Kat. Fred and Kristen make a great team as it is, but when you put them in substitute teacher outfits and make them sing songs, it’s even better. On top of that, there’s not only the element of improv on Fred’s behalf, but like double improv with Kristen just copying every word of improv Fred’s saying. It’s a masterclass in Yes, and.

Taran Killam plays a newspaper movie critic from the 1800s and he hates everything. And he’s not afraid to say it. And the audience is also not afraid to let him know when they don’t like a joke. The best part might be when Seth laughs when one of the jokes gets absolutely no response from the crowd.

Glengarry Glen Christmas (2005)

Alec Baldwin is obviously brilliant every episode he’s done (16, the record for most times hosting), and per this list, he’s a staple in class holiday sketches, too. This one is a Christmas spoof on his popular role in Glengarry Glen Christmas, but this time, he’s taking over Santa’s factory and having a talk with the elves. I had seen this version before the original, which I suggest you watch here, but I still thought it was hilarious. After having seen the scene in the movie it was based on, it’s even more hilarious and spot on. Rachel, Fred, Amy, and Seth (who wrote the sketch!) are all perfect in this scene, and so is Alec, who accidentally makes a perfect slip-up in the middle.

Christmas for the Jews (2005)

One of the best ‘modern’ Christmas songs IMO is Darlene Love’s Christmas (Baby Please Come Home). It’s not the holidays until you hear this song, which is why she was the perfect choice to sing this tune for Saturday TV Funhouse. Christmas for the Jews tells a tale of how Jews revel in the fact all the Gentiles are inside celebrating Christmas, and they are free to ‘go see King Kong without a line’ or ‘Eat in a Chinese restaurant and drink some sweet wine’. Darlene’s legit-ness is what makes this song so good and another ‘modern day’ Christmas classic.

Dick in a Box (2006)

There was a period of time when I was in college that I wasn’t able to watch SNL as religiously as I had been before, which was sad for me, but also, it meant I had a some semblance of a social life? (LOL) I was at my friend’s apartment when she asked if I had seen Dick in a Box yet, and I hadn’t. We immediately watched it online (because this was when the whole YouTube/viral thing was just becoming a thing), and I basically died. Like Christmas for the Jews, Dick in a Box is actually a great song, lyrics aside. Lyrics included, still a great song. Speaking of lyrics, don’t mind the Spanish subtitles. Or do, it’s take D in a B to a whole new level.

Santa’s My Boyfriend (2006)

Just like Dick in a Box, I may know all the words (and maybe some harmonies) to this cold open from the SNL queens, including Poehler, Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig. You think at first it’s going to be a cute song about Santa and Christmas, but alas, this is SNL.

The Kissing Family: Holiday Affection (2010)

Like a bad car wreck, the Vogelcheck family is something that you should drive right past and not pay attention to, but you just can’t look away. Paul Rudd is the best at this sketch, because he just goes for it. I mean, anyone who agrees to do this sketch has to go for it, but he just goes.for.it. And so does Hader. Bless. {watch video here}

Jimmy Fallon’s Monologue (2011)

When Jimmy Fallon walked on stage as a host for the Christmas show in 2011, it was the first time he had been in Studio 8H since he left in 2004. I made no plans the night he hosted, and watched this episode ‘live’ west coast time in my bedroom, standing next to my TV 90% of the time because I was just SO EXCITED. And it all started with his monologue, because as soon as he hit his mark, you could tell it was a big moment for him. And just like Jimmy, he just wanted the monologue to be Fun with a capital F. I have a feeling he came up with the idea to just have the entire cast sing and dance with him at the end and if you’re not watching this without a big smile on your face, you’re a big ol’ grinch. By altering the lyrics to Darlene Love’s hit song, this cold open embodied exactly what’s at the heart of the holidays – ‘It’ so good to be home’. {Watch video here}

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