Thursday, December 24, 2009

My Chestnuts Are Roasting

Know what's fun? Replacing nativity scene Baby Jesus dolls with Sesame Street Muppets. There's a brief shock, then acceptance by most onlookers. If not the Son of God, then a familiar, lovable character will suffice. This year, I've favored The Count, a homage to contemporary vampirephilia. Not a peep of protest. The ACLU needs to change tactics.

As I move into performance mode, which has increased the amount of time I talk to myself, I ponder the previous year and smile. I've had more lucrative seasons, but they weren't as dramatic and absurd as 2009. In fact, this whole decade has been a twisted medicine show of the spirit, and starting Monday, I'll provide a week-long review of the 00s. Personal, political, creative, insane -- it'll all be there. I'll roam the fire-lit den in smoking jacket with pipe and martini, recounting the last ten years as Lionel Hampton tickles the vibes, and Lenny Bruce pops champagne corks for some up-and-coming starlets.

One highlight I anticipate in '10 is the (still scheduled) 30th Fridays reunion in LA. There was a hint of that in the recent season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, where Fridays' vets Larry David, Michael Richards, Larry Charles and Bryan Gordon pulled it together one more time. So in that spirit, here are some holiday bits from the December 18, 1981 episode, hosted by Beau Bridges.

By this point, Donny and Marie Osmond were pretty played out, their Hawaiian Punch spots notwithstanding. Still, they were fresh enough to slap one more time, and I suspect this piece was written by Bruce Kirschbaum, whose first TV writing gig was the Donny and Marie show. If so, I'm amazed he was so gentle. And I love John Roarke's Bob Hope. Like Dan Aykroyd's Nixon, Roarke's Hope was more inner essence than uncanny impression.

Here's a holiday film that was perfect for the Reagan era, especially the ending.

Speaking of Reagan, here's his first Christmas in the White House, after Fridays' opening credits. There was a tendency back then to portray Reagan as a child-like idiot. Many people still couldn't believe that the man was elected president, so they let him have it. Not that it did much to tarnish his image or lessen his popularity. Reagan facing a Black militant was a common Fridays theme.

And while this piece has nothing to do with the holidays, I include it anyway. I like the use of movement and stage hands, giving the sketch that live TV feel.