As per the season, I’ve been cueing up old Christmas favorites on the iPad for my four-year-old son to watch – “It’s Christmas, Charlie Brown!” is a fave, though the work of Rankin/Bass has proven something of an uncanny valley. Scrolling through the titles has caused me to reflect on my own attempts at melding media and tradition. It’s never worked.
Several years ago, theater critic and playwright David Templeton invited me and my pals to participate in his annual “Twisted Christmas” shindig – a show in which performers attempted yuletide yucks with gallows humor (an annual favorite included the gleeful dismemberment of a gingerbread man, if memory serves). We obliged with a short film, a mock trailer really, for a flick cheekily entitled “A Very Special Christmas,” which proved anything but.
The cast included a sitting mayor, a local photographer, a woman known for her ability to wear jeans, your favorite music columnist and a certain filmmaker who would sooner kill me than be further associated with the debacle. I wrote the beast, poaching elements from the finest of holiday fare, hence the crippled boy, the hooker with a heart of gold, a motorcycle gang leader, a dude eating crayons … At some point I lost my way, which is why the flick was basically Dickens on a “short bus” ride to Hell.
Naturally, we thought it was a scream. However, when it screened in front of a crowd of several hundred paying theatergoers there was no tittering, no laughter, no knowing nods to the insouciant slouch of our ironic posture. Just crickets. Very angry crickets. It was a like the biblical plague of locusts but much more easily offended. Ever try to apologize to a swarm? Me neither. I split during intermission, never to return to acts of Christmas satire. Well almost. Until the sole copy of the film resurfaces (I hear it’s in a vault somewhere in the East Bay), I content myself by annually rolling out the following parody of Clement C. Moore’s “The Night Before Christmas.” And, of course, I hope you have a Very Special Christmas! DH
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