Watch Pee Wee Herman’s Kooky Xmas Special From 1988 (with Little Richard, K.D. Lang, Oprah & More)

‘Tis the season when complex familial relations, squabbling youngsters, and exploding schedules put many of us on delicate emotional terrain. Be of good cheer. Put down the scissors (and the wrapping paper) for 48 minutes. Spend some quality holiday time with Pee Wee Herman, the upbeat and deeply odd creation of comedian Paul Rubens.

The fictional Pee Wee was born of a decidedly adult LA comedy scene, but his childlike demeanor and love of vintage toys landed him a Saturday morning kid’s show that ran from 1986 to 1991. Series regulars included then-unknown actors Laurence “Cowboy Curtis” Fishburne and S. Epatha “Reba the Mail Woman” Merkerson, to name but two of the neighbors who swung by the Playhouse every episode to visit with Pee Wee and his anthopomophized furniture. (Even the floor had eyeballs and a point of view.)

In December 1988, Pee Wee and the playhouse gang starred in a Christmas special that cleaved to the template established by such sentimental favorites as Andy Williams and Bing Crosby. What makes Pee Wee’s special so, well, special is the quality of his celebrity guests.

Little Richard on ice, anyone?

Grace Jones pa-rum-pum-pum-pumming in a rubber bustier?

Magic JohnsonZsa Zsa GaborK.D. Lang? Yes, please!

This mess is so hot, Whoopi GoldbergDinah Shore, and Oprah Skyped in, twenty years before the technology became available.

I don’t know about you, but the whole Christmas thing just got a little less fraught. Ditto “the Hanukkah portion of the show.”

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Ayun Halliday wishes you a happy new year. @AyunHalliday



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