Denis Leary’s view on the holidays ain’t so jolly. Go figure.
A couple of weeks ago, Leary, his band and his 15-year-old son, Jack, performed the actor/comedian’s song, "Merry F#%$in’ Christmas" as the finale at Cam Neely’s Comics Come Home benefit. But it looks and sounds much more subversive when it opens "Denis Leary’s Merry F#%$in’ Christmas" special Nov. 27 on Comedy Central.
"Live, it’s more of a jaunty singalong," Leary told me this week over the phone on a break from voiceover work on Ice Age 2. If by jaunty, you mean an opening verse such as, "Old Saint Nick’s got bourbon breath, it’s so cold you could catch your death, a cop sold me some crystal meth, it’s a merry, f#%$in’ Christmas."
"Really, we’re just going for the ultimate anti-Christmas song," Leary said. "Then I thought, this is really going to have a great animated video for it. That was the seed for the idea that led to the Christmas special." Cue the claymation! "It’s a throwback to Rankin-Bass and all that stuff we know from growing up." Leary said Comedy Central will "bleep" one version of his special, then air the uncensored version sometime later at night (part of what the network calls it’s after-midnight Secret Stash series).
How they’ll bleep it is another matter. Some skits involve William Shatner, Charlie Murphy, Chris Elliott and the Barenaked Ladies. Leary also pokes fun at Tom Cruise, FEMA and Paris Hilton. "We weren’t setting out to make a timeless special. If you wanted something that was evergreen, you couldn’t be as funny," he said. "Although I think ‘It’s Jihad Time, Farley Towne’ is timeless." Yes, that is a Peanuts spoof.
Any worries about taking on Tom Cruise, who’s known to sue? "I had a big fight with Viacom and Comedy Central," Leary said. "They didn’t want Tom Cruise to sue me. It’s comedy. If you’re not pissing people off, you’re not doing your job." So he skewers both Scientology and Catholicism at the same time. "We carry on this stupid tradition with kids, and it’s really the beginning, the tradition is deception," he said. Leary’s son, Jack, makes a cameo during the special’s musical finale, but he doesn’t perform. "He said, ‘Is it funnier if I act like I’m bored and couldn’t care less?’ I said, ‘You mean like in real life?’" Leary said.
The Learys are hosting many relatives from Massachusetts and even Ireland this weekend for Thanksgiving, so he feels your pain. "Once your family leaves on Sunday, or you leave your family, you’ll need a good hearty hour of laughs to get it out of your system," he said. "And it’ll also get you in the right mood for Christmas."
Related: The show’s Comedy Central site.
Here’s a sketch with Bobby Tisdale on the mic: