Tag Archives: Holidays

Stand Up Sunday: Easter Eddie, The Easter Bunny, and Atheism

Fans of Eddie Izzard will find this bit an all-too-obvious feature for a stand-up Sunday that falls on Easter, but in my small household, viewing it has become somewhat of a tradition, and I’d like to share it.  Izzard performs this bit in his 1999 tour, Dress to Kill. 

Was it just me, or did some of the San Francisco audience seem a little uncomfortable with Izzard’s pithy summary of  the Easter tradition?

We use stand up comedians as a societal court jester; sometimes we listen to them just to hear things we don’t want to hear.  I may have been the smallest bit shocked when I heard this bit for the first time, but now I find that it provides a gentle grounding that I very much appreciate.  It’s a similar feeling to the one evoked by Dustin Hoffman performing Lenny Bruce’s “Happy Ending Culture” bit in Lenny (1974).  It’s sad.  It hurts.  But, because he can acknowledge it, I can acknowledge it, and I feel better.  Wait, do I?

Eddie Izzard is receiving as much attention for his out-and-proud atheism these days as for his out-and-proud transvestism. Very recently he appeared on the National Mall as a guest speaker for the Week of Reason’s Reason Rally, amongst other atheist activists as Richard Dawkins and Bill Maher.

The thing about Eddie Izzard’s forays into atheism that I most relate to, as opposed to Maher’s, for example, is that we can stare the terrifying prospect of a Godless existence in the face and respond with silliness.  Izzard’s whimsey coupled with the legacy of Bruce’s truth-telling is preferable to me on days like today, when I remember the feeling I got having discovered the truth about the Easter Bunny.  Even if deep down, we don’t really feel better, it serves as a much more pleasant transition from myth dissemblance back into our everyday lives filled with everyday tasks.  At least we get some chocolate bunnies out of it.

Santa is coming to town, so watch yourself.

The holiday season is, of course, upon us. A time when brothers and sisters come together to divvy up the sober driver duties for their many mandatory family parties. (You and your loved ones may have other traditions.) A time when the unlikeliest of music becomes unavoidable. No, I am not talking about Susan Boyle’s inspirational (?) versions of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” on her Christmas album The Gift. (Although she should have called it The Re-Gift, because let’s be honest…)

I am thinking instead of the perennial “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.” As I’m sure that you, too, have felt with a kind of shiver completely unrelated to winter weather, the lyrics to this holiday favorite make Santa seem almost tyrannical in his tireless vigilance. “You better watch out,” it begins. But for what?! At least the next lines – “You better not pout / You better not cry” – offer a very specific rebuke to whiners and brats, but the fact that Santa is not something to eagerly await and watch for but to “what out for” makes him less a benefactor than a dictator. Less Tomie dePaola, more Brian De Palma. I guess the implication is that you better watch out for Santa watching you, at which point we may as well be in a Pynchon novel or a Police song.

In other words, Santa is like a heftier, jollier version of a spy drone. He flies around in his sleigh undetected – um, we’ve even got NORAD working on it – and although you never see him, he sees you when you’re both sleeping and awake (i.e. always) and knows when you’ve been both bad and good (i.e. everything). In this light, getting a wood-burning kit or a Kindle Fire hardly seems to make up for another year’s worth of despotic surveillance, to say nothing of the attendant paranoia that this song all but recommends.

I’m not the first to make this connection between Santa and a spy drone, however, as the following recent cartoons attest:

By John Darkow for the Columbia Daily Tribune 

By Cameron Cardow for the Ottawa Citizen

Also, did you know that there’s a war on?

Continue reading →