During the three years they overlapped in the cast of Saturday Night Live, Rachel Dratch and Ana Gasteyer didn’t have “some big sketch together.” But they always made each other laugh and have kept looking for new ways to collaborate since leaving the show. Now, they have reunited in a big way, co-writing and co-staring in A Clüsterfünke Christmas, their new parody of those guilty pleasure Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas movies for Comedy Central.
In this week’s episode of The Last Laugh podcast, Dratch and Gasteyer break down how they pulled off their spot-on send-up and reminisce about the highs and lows of their time on SNL—from behind-the-scenes antics to wild after-parties to the struggles they faced in the entertainment industry when they each decided to move on.
When I let the pair of comedians know that their new movie really got me into the holiday spirit early, Gasteyer exclaims, “How exciting! That was the goal. If it didn’t, that would be sad.”
It was on SNL’s famed Christmas episodes—typically the last show of each year—that Gasteyer in particular first broke out with sketches like “Martha Stewart’s Topless Christmas” and the “Schweddy Balls” edition of NPR’s “The Delicious Dish” with host Alec Baldwin. “It was always just a nice time of year for me creatively,” she says. “The Christmas show was always sort of fabulous, so I have fond memories of all of those.”
For Dratch “the idea that anyone could drop by and anything could happen,” was what made those big end-of-the-year episodes so much fun. She remembers coming back to the show for Kristen Wiig’s final episode in 2012 when host Mick Jagger and the Foo Fighters played outside under the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree until 3 in the morning. “I imagined anyone who happened to walk by and look over, like, ‘Hey... is that… is that Mick Jagger?’” she recalls.
Dratch and Gasteyer were just starting to write A Clüsterfünke Christmas when the COVID-19 pandemic began, which turned out to be an unlikely blessing in disguise. “Lockdown was sort of a lucky break for us because it created time and space where we could actually write a movie together,” Gasteyer says.
It also allowed them to bring in producers and writers who had worked on actual Hallmark Christmas movies to perfectly nail the look and feel of those films. “The idea was to bring the comedy minds and the Hallmark minds together to make the best parody that we possibly could,” she continues. “And it was really important to Rachel and to me that it really felt like a Hallmark Christmas movie or a Lifetime Christmas movie, because the more by the numbers it was, the more fun we could have with it.”
The big trope they wanted to tackle was, as Dratch puts it, “big city, bitchy executive with no time for love or Christmas gets sent to a small town to buy up a local business and meets a hunky local.”
“And abandons her regular life for Christmas magic,” Gasteyer adds, finishing her comedy partner’s thought. “It’s a movie for comedy fans and it’s a movie for Hallmark fans and it’s a movie for Hallmark hate-watchers.”
As for the decision to appear as supporting roles in the film as opposed to taking center stage, Dratch says, “We knew we weren’t going to be the romantic leads in any way, shape or form. So of course we’re playing these spinster gray-haired aunts who run the inn.”
“And there’s also a trope there as well that we were trying to call attention to,” Gasteyer explains, “which is in these movies, you tend to have the fresh young hottie who has come looking for a lumberjack or you have a 350-year-old homespun woman who gives sage advice.”
Of course, for A Clüsterfünke Christmas, they needed two. “Oh yeah, that’s a given,” Dratch says. “There wasn’t a lot of talk about that.”
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