A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!

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A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!

[Above: Feist and Stephen Colbert]

Stephen Colbert’s new Christmas special, The Greatest Gift of All!, is set up Andy Williams-style. Our host, in his eccentric, self-aggrandizing Colbert Nationcharacter, wears the classic red turtle-neck/ivory cable-nit sweater combo. He’s trapped in a cabin by the threat of a grizzly bear lurking outside the door, yet somehow a slew of famous musicians manage to drop by his abode unscathed. Toby Keith, Willie Nelson, John Legend, Feist, Elvis Costello and Jon Stewart sing-a-long in a series of mostly uninspired Yuletide tunes.

Each number comes off like a cross between the artist’s patent style and a show tune. The singers make fun of themselves, American tradition, and, most of all, Christmas specials. This tact, though hackneyed, might have been hilarious in the hands of a goofy/deadpan comic like Colbert. The problem lies in the casting; during half of the program the focus is shifted to the visiting musician…and not one of these performers is particularly funny. The exception, of course, is Daily Show host Stewart, who shows up dradle and latka in-hand, pitching Channukah to his fellow broadcaster.

Colbert has an infectious energy, though, and when he and Elvis Costello duet at the stand-up, like Bing and Danny (the half-serious ballad is titled “Much Worse Things to Believe In”), it leaves you feeling that Colbert’s Christmas special is, well, kinda special.

The program airs this Sunday, Nov. 23, at 10 p.m. EST on Comedy Central. The DVD will be released via Paramount Nov. 25th, and comes with alternate endings (including one where Stewart kills Colbert), an interactive Advent Calendar, and a “Video Yule Log of Burning Books!!”

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