Film

Leslie Odom Jr. and Amber Ruffin have very different picks for the most appropriate 2020 Christmas carol

Seth Meyers, Amber Ruffin

Seth Meyers, Amber Ruffin
Screenshot: Late Night With Seth Meyers

Hey, it’s holiday time! And, yes, that exclamation point was put on their out of habit and not any semblance of enthusiasm, as pandemic-wary people everywhere are side-eyeing the looming holidays with all the joy and anticipation of a wisdom tooth extraction. We’re speaking here, of course, of sensible, responsible, not-stupid people, who are socking in all the necessary supplies (booze, surplus comfort food, um, booze) to weather the big, normally festive days in relative isolation—from their relatives.

And while some might ordinarily relish a chance to skip out on a big family gathering once in a while (seriously, they can be a lot) after a full year of COVID-related lockdown and fear, the prospect of, say, Christmas 2020 just being another cold and lonely day wishing for human contact and re-bingeing Gilmore Girls is enough to crush the most holly-jolly of us. At least there’s Christmas music, right? Who could ever get all teary-eyed and maudlin when listening to the sort of song usually heard while watching beloved friends and family unwrap presents, drink various nogs, and generally remember why they love each other in the first place? Balls.

Well, Late Night With Seth Meyers and The Amber Ruffin Show’s Amber Ruffin isn’t here for any of your stiff-upper-lip holiday forbearance. This Christmas is going to suck, hard. And if you check in on the advice of medical experts on how to deal with your stress, loneliness, and sorrow in this soured, spoiled debacle of a holiday season, number one on the list is, “Acknowledge your feelings.” In that spirit, and coming out in a glorious holiday dress to sing her new Christmas carol to the empty audiences that have been her and Seth’s only audience for eight or so months, Ruffin—comically placid smile as ever plastered on her kisser—belted out the unofficial 2020 holiday anthem.

Do you like trash?

Santa hopes that you do.

’Cause he’s got something special, just for you,

It’s a holiday alone

You’ll have to celebrate on your own,

’Cause it’s the worst, worst Christmas of our lives!

Meyers tried to rein his pal in, but Ruffin wasn’t having it, objecting that, maybe, her brutally honest song about “co-morbidities” and presents you gave yourself being the only things under the Christmas tree is the only thing keeping her sane. Crossing in front of the stage to the pre-recorded music (“There’s no band here!,” Ruffin spat in the direction of the empty, Fred Arminsen-less Late Night bandstand), Ruffin rhymed about this Christmas being “a whole lot chiller,” with the fact that you won’t be seeing your favorite aunt this year because you “don’t want to kill her.” “This sucks!,” the deceptively ebullient Ruffin smiled to cap her song off with a “Fuck 2020!” flourish.

Naturally, there are other opinions on how to musically cope with a truly crappy holiday. Over on The Late Show, Stephen Colbert solemnly threw to Hamilton’s Leslie Odom Jr., who did a truly glorious, stripped-down rendition of “O Holy Night” from a silent and beautifully twinkling blue-and-white snow scene. You know, if hearing a man with the voice of a heartbroken angel lament “a world in sin and error pining” is your thing. (There’s some other stuff about being redeemed and everything turning out okay in the end, but the song still plays like a harrowing dirge.) Odom’s get a whole Christmas album and everything, but maybe switch it up between Ruffin and Odom every once in a while for a hauntingly beautiful, hopeful Christmas—that also cathartically, unabashedly sucks.

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