“I feel like I should be lecturing you guys on the Forum or the Secret,” Aimee Mann told the audience at the beginning of her second annual Christmas Show, which happened in the Grand Ballroom, on the seventh floor of a midtown concert hall. “This room has a seminar feeling to it.” The rented chairs and carpeted floor were offset by snow garlands and Christmas trees onstage; Mann showcased not only her singing chops but also her acting skills, rolling a film she made featuring just about every comedic actor in Hollywood (Ferrell, Stiller, Oswalt …Weird Al). Later, she channeled her inner Boris Karloff, singing a bluesy rendition of “You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” while co-host Paul F. Tompkins narrated the story.
The show also included visits from Ben Lee, a self-proclaimed Australian Jew who sang a song that asked “What Would Jay-Z Do?” and the Hanukkah Fairy, comedian Morgan Murphy, who greeted the crowd with a “What's up, NPR supporters!” then rapped about the Maccabees. (Everyone laughed, then patted their Thirteen/WNET tote bags fondly.) The lights came up as the stage full of performers, which also included Nellie McKay and Josh Ritter, closed the night with “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).” Not bad, as seminars go. —Elizabeth Black