Tonight marks the 27th time powerhouse rock/gospel singer Darlene Love sings, nay, BELTS “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)” on Late Show with David Letterman. (Since 1986, the only year Love hasn’t performed this song was 2007, due to the Writers’ Strike.)
Despite the fact that I know what’s coming (it’s the same show, every year), this is one of my favorite Christmastime traditions. So here’s a quick post to inform the unaware “kiddies” out there—Letterman’s words, not mine—about this fun, silly, and poignant TV ritual, which features
- two stories, one from Paul Schaffer (although this one’s sadly gone missing the last couple of years) and another one from Jay Thomas,
- some tree-decorating,
- some tree-destroying, and then
- Darlene Love’s singing what might be the greatest Christmas song ever.
Again, nothing changes from year to year. Aside from the monologue jokes and the guest after Thomas, Letterman and crew put on virtually the same show every December before their Christmas hiatus. But now, with Letterman’s contract currently extended only through 2015, you might want to jump on board while you can. Here’s the lowdown…
Paul, Cher, and “The Muff”
Paul Shaffer narrates a story about Cher and then impersonates her singing “O Holy Night” as she warms her hands in “a muff.” Yeah, wait for it; the word muff will be mentioned, and Letterman will make a deadpan face resembling Buster Keaton‘s.
The Decorating of the Christmas Tree
Mujibar and Sirajul, former neighbors of the show, walk onstage with a small statue of the Empire State Building, which they place atop The Late Show Christmas tree. Next in line to decorate is Joe G (of Joe G’s pizzeria), who gently lays a large pizza pie atop the tree. Finally, Rupert Gee walks over from the Hello Deli and jabs a softball-sized meatball onto Mujibar and Sirajul’s Empire State Building. Sauce usually accompanies the meatball. (NOTE: Sometimes this occurs earlier in the week.)
Jay Thomas and the Lone Ranger
Now, it’s time for the traditional “Christmas” story, told always by Jay Thomas. It’s an true-life anecdote involving Thomas, a Volvo, some marijuana, and Clayton Moore (aka., the Lone Ranger). Listen to it yourself, and prepare to laugh.
After the Lone Ranger story, Thomas and Letterman rise from their seats, take off their jackets, and throw footballs at the Christmas tree. Their goal: to knock off Rupert’s meatball. Childish, yes. Goofy, yes. But hey, it’s a tradition.
Darlene Love and “Christmas”
Finally, it’s time for Dave’s “favorite part of the Christmas season”: Darlene Love sings/nails the song “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).” In recent years, Love has been backed by an orchestra, a full gospel choir, and gobs of snow and confetti.
What a performance. After 27 years it never gets old. See below.
That’s it: The Late Show at its finest, silliest, and most memorable. Hope you tune in and make it a tradition too. You won’t regret it.