Kyle Dunnigan on the commercial futility of “The Twelve Days Of Christmas”

Kyle Dunnigan on the commercial futility of “The Twelve Days Of Christmas”

In HateSongwe ask our favorite musicians, writers, comedians, actors, and so forth to expound on the one song they hate most in the world.

The hater: Kyle Dunnigan has irons in a number of comedic fires. He’s done stand-up, written for Inside Amy Schumer, and hosts his own podcast, Professor Blastoff, with Tig Notaro. He’s also garnered about six million YouTube plays, in part for videos he’s posted as one of his characters, Craig. A pretty weird dude, Craig has also just recorded his own Christmas album, Craig’s All-Star Rockin’ Christmas, You Guys!, which is out now and features festive holiday hits like “Fuck You Mistletoe” and “My Baby Lamb Has Christmas Cancer.” 

The hated: “The Twelve Days Of Christmas”

The A.V. Club: Why did you pick “The Twelve Days Of Christmas”? 

Kyle Dunnigan: There are a couple of reasons I don’t like it. First, it sounds like a toddler’s song. It has the musical dimensions of “The Wheels On The Bus.” Also, I have a problem with getting 12 presents because nobody does that in one day. Another thing is that it’s supposed to be presents “my true love gave to me,” and most of the gifts are birds and animals. I think a bird is the worst present you can give somebody because it’s guilt-ridden. This animal has the gift of flight and you put it in a cage and watch it not do that until it dies. 

AVC: Or you’re stuck with geese. 

KD: Right, a gaggle of geese. You need a lot of acreage to handle all of these presents and maintenance of animals and stuff like that. Then, in the middle of the song, he gives her five golden rings, which seems a poor distribution of wealth. If a girl got five golden rings, it would seem like a waste of money. She’d probably be pissed, in a way. Why not get one golden ring and a Prada bag and a trip to Europe? If you can buy five golden rings, you should spread that money around. And then, lastly, it’s way too long. By the time you get to eight or nine days, I feel like I’m in line at the bank counting down the number of people left in front of me.

AVC: Then you get to the drummers drumming and the pipers piping, and you get into the issue of whether or not you can gift people.

KD: Wait, is that in that song?

AVC: It is. Twelve drummers drumming, ten lords a-leaping.

KD: I usually don’t make it that far so I don’t even know. Well, that pisses me off even more. He got her people for Christmas. 

AVC: It could perceivably be a woman getting presents for a guy. 

KD: Yeah, I thought about that. It is that vague. I feel like guys sing it, but maybe I’m wrong. 

AVC: It’s from the 1780s, so it was probably men getting presents for women. Ladies had to be given their money.

KD: Because girls couldn’t do anything until 200 years ago. 

AVC: Do you like any Christmas songs?

KD: A couple of them make me feel nostalgic. “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” makes me sad. I like “Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire.” That reminds me of home. “Jingle Bell Rock,” I liked it the first time I heard it, and then it drove me up the wall. I was bored at college, so I put $10 in a jukebox in this place where people played ping-pong and pool. I put in $10 of “Jingle Bell Rock,” and this was back in the ’90s so it played “Jingle Bell Rock” like 40 times in a row. It was just really fun to watch because after the fourth time people were just losing their minds angry. I guess that’s a sick prank, but I like to hear that song every now and then. 

AVC: John Mulaney did the same thing with “What’s New, Pussycat?” 

KD: I think comedians start off as pranksters or something. 

AVC: You have an album out with all new Christmas songs. Do you think it’s possible to write a new Christmas hit?

KD: It’s got to be, but with the way music is now, it would have to be some techno dance Christmas song, and that doesn’t feel like Christmas to me. It’s hard because it is sort of about nostalgia, but I think it’s possible. Maybe I wrote one. Who knows? 

AVC: Why did you decide to do a Christmas record?

KD: I had this character that I’d done a Christmas video for last year. It did well and a few people asked me to make a Christmas album, so I thought that would be a good idea. I also knew this music producer who suggested a while ago that it would be a funny idea. I don’t feel like it came from me entirely. 

AVC: That happens a lot with Christmas albums. There’s a Duck Dynasty Christmas album that just came out, and I doubt that was entirely the cast’s idea. 

KD: That was definitely not. I love music and I’ll take any excuse to make it. The guy I’m working with, Jim Roach, is really talented. We wrote and recorded a whole album in three weeks, which is insane. I can’t believe how much we did in such a short period of time. 

AVC: Maybe next year someone will pick one of your songs. 

KD: Oh my God. I would be so honored if someone hated it that much. 

AVC: Do you think Craig would hate a different Christmas song than the one you picked?

KD: I think he would like all Christmas songs. He’s a pretty innocent character; I don’t think he hates anything. Maybe he’d be scared of “Jingle Bell Rock,” but I don’t think he’d hate it.

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