A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All (DVD Review)23 Nov, 2008 By: John Latchem
Stars Stephen Colbert, Elvis Costello, Toby Keith, John Legend, Willie Nelson, Feist, Jon Stewart.
After carefully cultivating his ego on “The Colbert Report,” satirical pundit Stephen Colbert has expanded his reach with this holiday special styled after an old-school Christmas-themed variety show.
All the usual Colbert refinements are here, with sets filled with subtle touches that add to the hilarity. This is a celebration of all things Colbert.
The story begins with Colbert wrapping up his vacation at a remote cabin to return to his New York studio to record his Christmas episode. But as he leaves, he finds a dreaded bear outside ready to attack. Regular viewers of “The Colbert Report” know that Colbert often cites bears as the greatest threat to America, so he hides in his cabin and greets a wide range of guests.
First, Toby Keith arrives and sings a song complaining about politically correct attacks on the concept of Christmas. Then Colbert finds a fourth wise man in his model manger; it’s Willie Nelson, who sings about bringing a gift of weed to baby Jesus. Even “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart shows up to sing about Chanukah, much to Colbert’s apathy. Other musical performances include Feist and Elvis Costello, as well as Colbert himself.
The humor is subversive in typical Colbert style, but not as sharp as his usual nightly rant-fests. The episode aired on Comedy Central Nov. 23, only to make its way to DVD two days later. Its availability on DVD is a fact celebrated throughout the special.
The DVD is a must-have for Colbert fans. Viewers have the option to watch the special with or without live-audience reaction, though it plays better with the crowd.
Also included are three alternate endings and a bonus song, “Cold, Cold Christmas,” by Colbert.
For good measure, the disc includes a virtual fireplace, similar to the video fireplace made famous on the “Report.” Only this time it’s a “Book Burning Yule Log,” fuelled by books the sardonic Colbert no doubt finds objectionable.
But far and away the best thing about the DVD is a video advent calendar, featuring Colbert in 25 short vignettes counting down the days until Christmas.