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Watch the Newly Remastered Pee-wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special (1988) on YouTube

posted by Jason Kottke Dec 25, 2023

The entire episode of Pee-wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special (1988) is on YouTube, fully remastered in 1080p HD. Special guests include Annette Funicello, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Whoopi Goldberg, Magic Johnson, Grace Jones, Little Richard, and Joan Rivers. From a Vulture piece on the special:

Christmas at Pee-wee’s Playhouse, the 1988 primetime CBS special from comedian and actor Paul Reubens, is one of the strangest, most glorious, most improbable, most confident pieces of entertainment to appear on television. Thirty-five years after it aired, and in a period of reconsideration after Paul Reubens’s death, the Pee-wee Herman Christmas special still looks like one of the major pinnacles of Reubens as an artist, full of silly delight and winking subversion, all framed inside the relative safety of a big sparkly Christmas extravaganza.

And after declaring “This special is one of the gayest things I’ve ever seen”:

What’s so brilliant about it as a piece of queer art is that it is presented so earnestly, and the iconography they’re playing with is Americana. It plays as camp to our modern view of over-the-top earnestness. But it’s a mix of camp aesthetic and an alternative comedy aesthetic of laughing at bad jokes, like the series of fruitcake jokes, which were at the time a clich√©, that fruitcake was bad. Why are we going to make this joke about fruitcake over and over again? Because it’s stupid!

(via austin kleon)

Discussion  1 comment

Gregor Gilliom

And because every single anvil-clank sound effect the fruitcake makes when Pee-wee sets one down is hilarious. All paid off with the hunky construction workers using them to build a new wing to the Playhouse. The special the greatest thing ever. I met Playhouse designer Wayne White once, and told him the special is our most cherished Christmas tradition. His smile was perfectly devilish.

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