Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

Hanukkah begins tonight (an excuse for me to share comedy song 'Can I Interest You In Hanukkah?')

Hanukkah begins tonight. It's considered a minor Jewish holiday internationally, but a pair of Cincinnati rabbis developed and publicized a new celebration for children at Hanukkah in the second half of the 1800s. You can hear more about it in this NPR story.

The celebration helped Jews fit into American culture during the Christmas season, while maintaining their Jewish identity.

As a comedy fan, this is my opportunity to share one of my favorite songs from Stephen Colbert's Comedy Central Christmas special, "A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!" (The exclamation mark is part of the title, though it does make me excited.)

There are several Hanukkah comedy songs, most notably Adam Sandler's "The Chanukah Song," but the one I wanted to share today is "Can I Interest You In Hanukkah?" In it, "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart tries to sell Colbert on the Jewish holiday. My personal highlight is probably the potato pancakes reference, but there are plenty of gems in the lyrics. Here's the video, and you can read the lyrics below:

"Can I Interest You In Hanukkah?" lyrics

Jon: Can I interest you in Hanukkah?
Maybe something in a festival of lights.
It’s a sensible alternative to Christmas,
And it lasts for seven - for you? Eight nights.
Stephen: Hanukkah, huh? I’ve never really thought about it.
Jon: Well, you could do worse.

Stephen: Is it merry?
Jon: It’s kind of merry.
Stephen: Is it cheery?
Jon: It’s got some cheer.
Stephen: Is it jolly?
Jon: Look, I wouldn’t know from jolly,
But it’s not my least unfavorite time of year.

Stephen: When’s it start?
Jon: On the 25th!
Stephen: Of December?
Jon: Kislev.
Stephen: Which is when exactly?
Jon: I will check.
Stephen: Are there presents?
Jon: Yes, indeed, eight days of presents,
Which means one nice one, then a week of dreck.

Stephen: Does Hanukkah commemorate events profound and holy? A king who came to save the world?
Jon: No, oil that burned quite slowly.
Stephen: Well, it sounds fantastic!
Jon: There’s more!

Jon: We have latkes
Stephen: What are they?
Jon: Potato pancakes. We have dreidels
Stephen: What are they?
Jon: Wooden tops. We have candles
Stephen: What are they?
Jon: They are candles!
And when we light them, oh the fun it never stops.

What do you say, Stephen, you want to give Hanukkah a try?
Stephen: I’m trying see me as a Jew
I’m trying even harder
But I believe in Jesus Christ
So it’s a real non-starter

Jon: I can’t interest you in Hanukkah? Just a little bit?
Stephen: No thanks, I’ll pass. I’ll keep Jesus, you keep your potato pancakes.
But I hope that you enjoy ‘em, on behalf of all of the goyim.
Jon: Be sure to tell the Pontiff, my people say Good Yontif.
Stephen: That’s exactly what I’ll do!
Both: Happy holidays, you...
Jon: ... too!
Stephen: ... Jew!

Jon: Too? T--... t--...

Photo: Pal Pillai/AFP/Getty Images

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