this week in late night

Happy Holidays From Late Night

Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show. Photo: YouTube

The holidays are well and truly upon us, folks. There is no escape. All of entertainment is feeling festive. Stockings have been hung with care on fake fireplaces across TV land. On late night, my particular fave is The Late Late Show set, which has a Christmas tree on its mini Capitol Records building, just like the real one in Los Angeles. All the hosts are celebrating in their own way, and since Hanukkah ended last week, they’ve been committing to Christmas more fully than Mariah Carey. Jimmy Fallon even made an advent calendar.

Oddly, Fallon is the only host who has included gift-giving in their holiday content. And only one audience member per show gets anything. Remember when everyone got Alexas, Jimmy? Do you need Target to sponsor your sweater giveaway? Oooh, or Marshalls. Ellie Kemper is their holiday voiceover artist; I bet she’d come on and shoot sweaters out of a T-shirt cannon.

Stephen Colbert also got the audience involved in his one concession to holiday spirit. Colbert invited an audience member to sit in the guest spot and give him holiday greeting cards. Why? This could have been Colbert with a celebrity. Or alone! Audience participation is upsetting and should be kept to a minimum. Also: One desk piece about greeting cards does not a holiday make, Stephen. Colbert was practically Scrooge-ian in his refusal to acknowledge Christmas. We get it — politics! The only holiday Colbert wanted to recognize was Michael Cohen’s sentencing.

Conversely, Seth Meyers, the second most political of the network hosts, went jingle balls–to-the-wall festive this week by singing carols and dedicating an entire “Ya Burnt” segment to Christmas. It makes complete sense that No. 1 family man Seth Meyers goes apeshit for Christmas. He loves family! He loves holidays! He loves holidays you celebrate with family. But Nicole Byer reminded us all of the darker side to Christmas commercialism. “Below the Miracle on 34th Street, there’s jail.” Byer was caught shoplifting back in the day and was treated to Macy’s jail then real jail.

Honestly, there’s a lot of darkness in Christmas. A literal lack of sunlight, for one thing. Elf on a Shelf for another. This was the year everyone dunked on that nasty little snitch. Meyers burned him, and Jimmy Kimmel called him a narc. Elf on a Shelf is the weirdest new Christmas thing, aside from Hallmark movies. Meyers pointed out that it became ubiquitous in the same amount of time as Cardi B, but really, Elf on a Shelf is like gender-reveal parties: It’s something only straight marrieds care about, and everyone else is wildly creeped out. And, of course, the eternal “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” debate. Canada says its lyrics are coercive, William Shatner says it’s censorship. Busy Philipps says it’s hardly the only problematic Christmas song. “‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ is clearly about human trafficking,” she said. “Your true love just, like, gave you ten lords a-leaping and nine ladies dancing? Are you paying them to keep dancing?”

For the record, I think “Baby it’s Cold Outside” is about a woman who feels a need to playfully excuse her desire and a coercive man who can’t hear “no.” It’s both. This is the nightmare of gender. She doesn’t mean the “no” she’s saying, but he’d disregard it even if it were serious. Truly, the only pure Christmas duet is the one between Bing Crosby and David Bowie. It’s a stilted yet adorable classic. It’s a fave for comedic duos: The Venture Bros. covered it, as did Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. Now it’s time for that iconic pair, James Corden and Sean Hayes, to take a stab at it.

Hayes & Corden (as they were called back on the vaudeville circuit) wonder what Michael Rapaport is doing right now. Probably tweeting something gross. But I hope he is feeling the holiday spirit and the Google search bump this clip gave him. Google search bump us, everyone.

Happy Holidays From Late Night