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:


"We Are The World 25.75" brings comedians together for charity

You may remember "We Are The World," the charity single recorded by a cadre of '80s superstars back in 1985, raising money for African aid. Produced by the legendary Quincy Jones and written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, "We Are The World" raised over $63 million. A 25th anniversary update was released earlier this year to raise money for Haiti.

Previous versions of the songs also generated parodies, and showing that the comedy well is not dry, there's a brand new one! We Are The World 25.75 (commemorating the 25.75th anniversary of the original) is out, put together by comedy show Comedy Death-Ray. It features Sarah Silverman, actor Kurt Russell (holding an Oscar) and numerous other stars, most from the comedy world. My personal highlight: Paul F. Tompkins' excellent line reading of "by turning stones to bread?!"


Cookie Monster auditions to host Saturday Night Live

Sesame Street is launching an Internet campaign on Facebook to get Cookie Monster chosen to host "Saturday Night Live." The campaign already has over 56,000 Facebook fans and almost 290,000 views on YouTube. Check out the video below:

So, are you pro or con on the puppet host? If the Internet can get Betty White to host, why not? I'd be curious to see if the Muppets would be willing to work a little blue (no Cookie Monster-related pun intended) to blend in with the SNL sensibility or if it would have to be a relatively tame episode.

My top three personal highlights:

  • Monologue: "Blah blah blah, cookie joke cookie joke cookie joke..."
  • The Lady Gaga impression (Cookie Face!)
  • Best of all, Cookie Monster doing air quotes when talking about Facebook "friends"


NPR tribute rap song 'Good Radiation'

Amateur rapper Cadamole (featuring Jenna Sullivan doing the auto-tuned hook) has produced a tribute to something near and dear to our hearts: NPR, of course. Yes, there is a National Public Radio rap, "Good Radiation"; check it out below.

He's not the smoothest rapper, with one line in particular making me cringe: "So if you hate on that... just don't."

Still, he drops NPR references that will surely bring a smile to any avid listener, and the beat sampling the All Things Considered theme is pretty fantastic. Some of my personal favorite lines:

  • "I got an NPR tat and an NPR tote"
  • "This song goes out to all my member stations"
  • "My crew is small but unstoppable like Terry Gross / My tunes are witty and topical like Terry Gross / My rhymes are sharply intelligent like Terry Gross / OK, so I'm in love with Terry Gross"
  • "All Things Considered, life is awesome / I like my words the way that Will Shortz crossed them"
  • "I'd buy a Prius if I could afford it"


New photos reveal Spider-Man musical costumes, including... Swiss Miss?!

New photos are out showing some of the first real glimpses of what's going to be in the new Spider-Man musical, "Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark." The production has met with a series of roadblocks, has been repeatedly delayed, and almost didn't happen, but it looks like it's finally going to open in January.

Annie Leibovitz went behind the scenes and shot photos for Vogue. They show Spider-Man in and out of costume, love interest Mary Jane Watson, classic Spidey villains Green Goblin and Carnage, and a brand new villain, the fearsome... Swiss Miss?! Seriously. OK, OK, it's a pretty scary looking costume, but I think I would have spent a little longer in whatever meeting produced that name.

There's also a Green Goblin costume that somehow looks more ridiculous than the one in the first Spider-Man movie.