Some folks will tell you that the War on Christmas begins every Black Friday — a day when faithless, mouth-breathing hordes descend upon shopping malls in an orgy of consumerism that openly mocks Jesus's's [sic] birthday. Well, last night at the Ricardo Montalban Theater, a different kind of orgy took place — an orgy of comedy for charity — and this one was in defense of Christmas: Comedy Bang Bang's Annual Nativity Pageant.
Founder and host Scott Aukerman put together a wholesome Christ-centered evening of dick, fart and AIDS jokes from a massive slate of funny people to support the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. To list everyone wouldn't be fair to the more famous people. Just trust us, it was a big deal — and clocking in at just over four hours, it wasn't a minute too short. Even for an orgy.
Before the pro-Yule yuks even started flying, they rolled out this red carpet in the entrance to the theater for famous people to walk on and…wait for it…those same famous people answered questions for the press. “Surely you jest!” you might say. Oh no, we're hardly kidding. Famous people have things to say, they have milquetoast questions to answer and, at their publicists' prompting, they have info to dish.
Who humbled us with their forced small talk? Weird Al for one. Mr. Al, a working musician, gave us some good chatter. “Whose performance am I least looking forward to? Uh…the parking attendant?” Good one, Mr. Al.
Jon Hamm, an actor from a TV show called Mad Men, also had things to tell us: “There's a War on Christmas? Ooooh, I get it. Yeah, if we're firing the opening shots tonight, we should, y'know, take the high ground.” Excellent advice. Since we were there in support of Jesus' nativity, Mr. Hamm told us that as a birthday present he was getting Jesus “a whole bunch of new fucked up people to try and heal.”
Nerdist Chris Hardwick had this to say about the War for Christmas: “I think it's interesting that we've finally started to kinda side with the Grinch after all these years. Maybe he wasn't so crazy. Maybe all the Whos in Whoville were kinda dicks.” Mr. Hardwick has already purchased new sandals and a beard trimmer for the big man's birthday.
Inside the theater, Aukerman began the cavalcade with excellent and pious crowd-work bits about dog's assholes, before bringing out folks like Patton Oswalt, Weird Al and Jimmy Pardo. The crowd of mostly 20s-to-30s white yuppie nerds shelled out $75 for both charity and the privilege of seeing the likes of Hamm work the first few interluding bits. David Cross, Doug Benson and Tim Heidecker all gave solid performances to boot. Neil Hamburger came out and made us want to go home and take a shower. At one point, Kristen Schaal and Kurt Braunohler stripped down to sheer body suits full of fluorescent rave sicks — which did nothing to hide Braunhohler's balls.
Bouncing between backstage and the performances themselves, we got an amazing view of what funny people are like when they're not performing (mostly drinking — occasionally water). In that straddling of two worlds, we met Joss Whedon, an aspiring writer/director of some kind. Whedon, a bald man, did not take issue with the frequent head-rubbing he recieved from passersby, but was blindsided by the press folks who thought he was Ron Howard. Fucking baldists — can't an up-and-comer like Whedon get any respect?
Whedon spent some time consulting with the musical duo Garfunkel and Oates, who did their best to celebrate the Nativity with some excellent songs about love and body parts. Happy Birthday, Jesus — hope you like scary vaginas.
Paul Scheer and Rob Heubel dragged audience members into a Mexican stand-off of sorts with a cautionary “skit a clef” about award-show screener piracy and the true meaning of Christmas violence. Brian Posehn should be crowned the King of Fart Jokes for regaling us all with an extended oratory about him ass-gassing Christian Slater in an audition.
As Thomas Lennon serenaded us to close out the evening, we took time to reflect on the majesty and profundity of the season. Lennon's song about snorting coke off his own stomach in a motel with his stripper stepsister made us think of our own family and friends, as well as those in need. Maybe we all need a Comedy Bang Bang chuckle orgy at Christmas to realize that it's not really a season of war, but a season of love giving. And perhaps not just dick jokes, but vagina jokes, too.
Well done, gang, well done.