It’s fascinating to see his artistic sense grow and shift over the years, not only increasing in artistic skill as he gets older but also moving from simple depictions of holiday scenes to more conceptual creations.
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 cliché, that fruitcake was bad. Why are we going to make this joke about fruitcake over and over again? Because it’s stupid!
And I grew up going to the yearly Christmas Revels concert/play in Cambridge, MA, and while nothing beats the live shows, I also love their albums, especially this spirited 1978 one: The Christmas Revels: In Celebration of the Winter Solstice [spotify]. The Revels also feature the “Abbots Bromley Horn Dance” in every show, and seeing it live usually sends chills up my spine:
When I met Michael Caine to talk about playing Scrooge, one of the first things he said was: “I’m going to play this movie like I’m working with the Royal Shakespeare Company. I will never wink, I will never do anything Muppety. I am going to play Scrooge as if it is an utterly dramatic role and there are no puppets around me.” I said: “Yes, bang on!” He was intimidating to start with, but he’s a delight.
Written by Sofia Coppola, Bill Murray and Mitch Glazer and directed by Sofia Coppola, A Very Murray Christmas is described as an homage to the classic variety show featuring Bill Murray playing himself, as he worries no one will show up to his TV show due to a terrible snow storm in New York City. Through luck and perseverance, guests arrive at the Carlyle hotel to help him; dancing and singing in holiday spirit.
“I didn’t think that happened until I sat on the showroom floor and heard someone say, ‘I’m not going to pick the car up until the 24th,’” said Rosario Criscuolo, the owner of two Lexus dealerships in Michigan. “It blew my mind. But if your wife needs a car, it’s a good way to do it, right? It saves you from having to go to the malls.”
Mr. Criscuolo said that each year, about a half-dozen customers wait until Christmas Eve to pick up their new cars.
And the demand for the oversize red bows is so strong that Lexus stockpiles them in a warehouse near its North American headquarters in Torrance, Calif.
In recent years, the gifts on offer have grown increasingly extravagant and ridiculous: a modern Zeppelin for $10 million, a 3-hole golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus for your back yard for $1 million, and a private concert with Elton John for $1.5 million. (via girlhacker)
Why I Celebrate Christmas. “[Santa Claus is] clearly what Jesus would be if he was real. Nobody would ever consider nailing this omnibenevolent deity to anything, would they? Nor does he hold anything against you longer than a year.” (via cyn-c)