Last night, I went to Aimee Mann’s Christmas Show at Town Hall here in New York. Get it? It’s ironic, because her songs are depressing. And yet the premise totally, totally worked. Small, cozy venue, a random cast of characters sharing a tongue-in-cheek enthusiasm for the holidays, Aimee darting from awkward and shy to giggly to dead-on hilarious – the entire thing was the most valuable use of two hours I’ve undergone since Thanksgiving dinner. I hope she’ll continue to do a similar show each year, so more fans in more cities can catch on. I can see this becoming an annual NYC holiday tradition for me, like eating Nuts 4 Nuts every afternoon or “accidentally” stepping into tourists’ photos if it means I can cover sidewalk space more quickly.
Aimee spent only about half the time singing – old songs, new songs from her Christmas CD, One More Drifter in the Snow, even some of her most dire songs like “Save Me” and “Wise Up”. Indie rocker Grant-Lee Phillips narrated Aimee’s delightfully throaty version of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” SNL’s Fred Armisen (pictured, center, with Phillips and Mann) kept popping up to do inexplicable things like attempt to play ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man” on a big-screen Guitar Hero. Nellie McKay started maybe seven sentences in a row, finished none of them, called her mom from her perch at the piano, then launched into an awesomely trippy version of “Frosty the Snowman.” We got a special visit from the Hanukkah Fairy (comedian Morgan Murphy), who wore a tutu and spouted out incorrect facts about the Jewish holiday (most Jews she knows like to eat chicken tikka masala during each night of “Naanukkah”) while lazily nursing a beer. Comedian and sort-of emcee Paul F. Tompkins, who left halfway through for a different gig, gradually grew on me, and luckily, every time “Enough already – where the hell is Aimee?” occurred to me, she’d come prancing back onstage shaking a tambourine.
Honestly, none of it made any sense, which is probably why it was so satisfying. I say: Whatever.