Comedy Central’s upcoming A Clüsterfünke Christmas (note the umlauts) isn’t the first time a pair of former Saturday Night Live stars have taken on the venerable basic cable TV movie genre. However, unlike colleagues Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig’s memorable 2015 outing, the Lifetime family horror melodrama pastiche (or was it?), A Deadly Adoption, the title of Rachel Dratch and Ana Gasteyer’s take on the Lifetime holiday movie makes it pretty clear where they stand on those cookie-cutter Christmas confections.
“This movie was not sanctioned by Hallmark, though—it has nothing to do,” Dratch told Late Night host and former SNL co-star Seth Meyers on Tuesday, “so don’t sue us, Hallmark.” And while Meyers joked that the next overpriced, glitter-dusted holiday card she receives may, in fact, be a decorative summons, Dratch probably doesn’t have anything to worry about. After all, the practice of chuckling bemusedly at the utter, inescapable ubiquity of these seasonally churned-out, virtually identical semi-movies is pretty much a cliché of its own at this point.
Plus, as Dratch told Meyers, without the traditional sprinkling of trusty tropes that festoon the average Hallmark holiday extravaganza like reliable old Christmas lights, A Clüsterfünke Christmas would simply blink out of existence. “For these Hallmark-esque movies, there’s all these tropes and things to hit to make it seem real,” explained Dratch (putting some air quotes around “Hallmark” for legal safety), noting that she and Gasteyer brought in Hallmark veteran writer Michael Murray to shore up the verisimilitude of their feature-length goof. (Just a sampling of Murray’s Hallmark titles: Finding John Christmas, Christmas 9 To 5, The Christmas Setup, The Tree That Saved Christmas, and the confusingly named Can’t Buy Me Love At Santa.)
For co-writers Dratch and Gasteyer, when it came time to choose from the limited selection of traditional Hallmark holiday roles, it was pretty easy to see where the veteran SNL troupers would slot in. “We knew we weren’t going to be the executive who shows up from the city to fall in love,” stated Dratch, outlining the basic plot of approximately 75 percent of every such film. But, when coming up with their own version of the never-ending trope of heartless big city woman who comes to take over a tiny, holiday-themed local business but winds up swept away by small-town charm and a local (woodsman, fireman, quaint wooden toy-maker, etc), Dratch told Meyers that she and Gasteyer knew they’d wind up spewing down-home platitudes as the film’s grey-bunned, inn-owning spinster Clüsterfünke sisters.
Dratch assured potential viewers that, unlike the deadpan put-on that was A Deadly Adoption, A Clüsterfünke Christmas will be straight up sketch comedy acting all the way, as those spunky Clüsterfünkes try to steer Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Vella Lovell (“the big city, bitchy executive,” according to Dratch) toward their tiny town’s most rough-hewn, eligible bachelor (30 Rock’s Cheyenne Jackson, sporting flannel and wielding a hatchet).
Noting that she and Gasteyer wanted to tick off as many Hallmark boxes as possible, Dratch did reveal that a magical dog will, naturally, figure in the mismatched couple’s inevitable pairing, presumably under some mistletoe that Jackson’s hardy hunk felled himself. Just to note, Hallmark scribe Murray also wrote the dog/holiday-centered The Christmas Shepherd, so Dratch and Gasteyer are on solid ground. (That ground being the fake-snowy environs of Vancouver in July, as is the filming ground of most Hallmark holiday movies.)
A Clüsterfünke Christmas premieres on Comedy Central on December 4.