I have been a fan of Saturday Night Live since the glory days of the late 1980’s. Phil Hartman, Dana Carvey, Jan Hooks, and John Lovitz were my jam. I would watch it every Saturday night. SNL has it’s good share of Christmas sketches. They include slimy toy maker Irwin Mainway selling Bag 0′ Sharpened Glass, The Sweeney Sisters singing to Paul Simon, and enough funny sketches about Santa Claus to make a two hour special of it’s own. Debbie Downer and Santa Claus from the Jack Black 12/17/2005 episode is the funniest of them all. But none of them were able to break my top ten. This not often shown sketch some might think is sacrilegious but I like to think that Jesus would appreciate it. You can find it on NBC-Peacock on SNL’s season 29, episode 9, the episode where Helen Hunt hosted. It starts at the 11:30 mark. It was written by Robert Smigel, his wife Michelle, and Louis C.K.
Robert Smigel got his start on the short lived Dana Carvey Show. It is a cult comedy classic that didn’t get it’s due when it was on ABC. There is a hilarious Hulu documentary Too Funny To Fail about the show.
Smigel made cartoon shorts, the most famous being the Ambiguously Gay Duo, a riff on Batman starring young Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert –two comedy legends in their own right. Colbert’s own Christmas Special is on this list.
Robert Smigel is most famous for Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. But for me, he will be remembered for Saturday Night Live Playhouse, cartoons that ranged from The Ambiguously Gay Duo to parodying Mr. T, Scooby Doo, and a bizarre cartoon with a sadistic homicidal genie named Shazang. My favorite ones were Fun With Real Audio. He would takes audio clips of famous people saying things and turn them into bizarre cartoons with biting satire. My favorite of these is the one from December 1997. Before Trump and his religious lackies Franklin Graham, Paula White, and Robert Jeffress there were these.
This one begins with Robert Schuller, a noted televangelist back in the 80’s and 90’s, praying for $20 million dollars to help build his church. He starts shilling a Christmas angel and Jesus, looking dismayed, taps on the reverend’s shoulder , Trying to get Schuller’s attention to get him to stop using Him to get money. And the reverend punches Jesus in the Face. Jesus gets upset and zapps the good reverend into a tutu.
Next is Pat Robertson on The 700 Club talking about homosexuality as an abomination and that “If Jesus says something is an abomination, it is an abomination.” Jesus shakes his hands as if to say, “No no. I never said that.”
Jesus addressed sexual immorality but He never mentioned homosexuality. From reading scripture and praying and studying history , I believe, pretty clearly, that the Bible condemns male-on-male rape, cultic prostitution, and the Greek/Roman practice of older men teaching boys and teenage men in exchange for sexual favors. And of course sex without love and commitment. It is silent on loving committed homosexual unions.
The Reverend Mel White, former ghost writer for Jerry Falwell Sr. and a gay man in a loving committed marriage, wrote the following pdf and I believe that it is Biblically sound. https://melwhite.org/wp-content/uploads/WhatTheBibleSays…AboutHomosexuality-byMelWhite.pdf
Then Pat Robertson tries to hide Jesus several times before Jesus gets frustrated and turns Pat Robertson into a rat who has to fend off another rat that is quite smitten with Pat.
Jesus then visits a TV faith healer on a tv stage. Jesus gives him a swift kick in the rear and the man to be healed gets out of the wheelchair and runs away, not because he was healed but because he was a fake. I believe in the gifts of the spirit. I do believe in Spiritual healing. It should be a private thing done with laying on hands with a preacher and/or a group of believers and the person to be healed in privacy not on TV for money or fame.
Jesus is despondent, his head hung low about all the hypocrisy and I believe the absence of Him and His love and His teachings in the Christmas season. He walks by a department store and sees a display of TVs for sale. Where a preacher hawks miracle holy oil, “Anoint your head with oil in the name of Jesus.” Jesus uses his hand as a remote and then watches a clip from Ben-Hur and other Christmas specials.
Finally he turns the channel with his hand-remote and clicks to The Peanuts Christmas Special where Linus quotes from Luke 2:8-14 KJV.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this [shall be] a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.
Jesus’ eyes well up and shed one joyous tear. He smiles and does the Snoopy dance.
Linus sums up Christmas. I don’t believe that we can have peace on earth without Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I hate to be a Debbie Downer. But we, as a race, tend to be selfish arrogant violent people who love to exploit others for personal gain. We love to use religion as a cover to do those things. It allows us to sin against our neighbors and feel self righteous doing so. But with the teachings of Jesus and the Holy Spirit guiding us I believe that we can truly reach for “Peace on earth and good will toward men.”
This sketch is less than three minutes. It is not a special per se. But I watch this it every year. That this out of any other SNL Christmas sketch captures Jesus and the Spirit of Christmas. It almost has a prophetic voice to it. The best satire makes you laugh and think but can also touch your heart. And for this I thank the Smigels and Louis C.K and of course Lorne Michaels for all the Christmas sketches throughout the years and the bravery to let this be aired.