Bill Murray & Gilda Radner Deliver the Laughs in Two 1970s Skits for National Lampoon

Bill Mur­ray is Amer­i­ca’s kind­liest, most eccen­tric, best known sec­u­lar elf, spread­ing joy through­out the year, as he treats strangers to impromp­tu birth­day ser­e­nades, poet­ry read­ings, and bach­e­lor par­ty toasts.

How will younger fans, who’ve nev­er been exposed to the brash Mur­ray of yore, react to his late 70s San­ta, above, for the “Nation­al Lam­poon Radio Hour”? This Grinch is a spir­i­tu­al fore­fa­ther of such depart­ment store bad­dies as Bil­ly Bob Thorn­ton and that guy from A Christ­mas Sto­ry.

For­get about Flexy the Pock­et Mon­key… Murray’s sham-Claus glee­ful­ly denies even the hum­blest of sweet-voiced lit­tle Gil­da Rad­ner’s requests — a Nerf Ball and a Pez dis­penser.

Sat­ur­day Night Live fans of a cer­tain vin­tage may detect more than a hint of Lisa Loopner’s boyfriend Todd De LaMu­ca in Murray’s vocal char­ac­ter­i­za­tion. Instead of Noo­gies, he sends Rad­ner gig­gling through “the trap door.”

Man, these two had chem­istry!

They revis­it­ed the sce­nario in a hol­i­day sketch for Sat­ur­day Night Live’s 3rd sea­son, with San­ta down­grad­ed from “evil” to “drunk­en.”

Murray’s “Kung Fu Christ­mas” for the Nation­al Lam­poon Radio Hour’s 1974 Christ­mas show, above, makes a smooth vin­tage chas­er.

In addi­tion to Rad­ner, col­lab­o­ra­tors here include Paul Shaf­fer, Christo­pher Guest, and Bil­l’s broth­er Bri­an Doyle-Mur­ray, a lily white line up unthink­able in 2016.

The lyrics and silky vocal stylings con­jure visions of a dis­co-grit­ty yule­tide New York, where “every race has a smile on its face.”

This time Rad­ner gets to do the reject­ing, in an extend­ed spo­ken word inter­lude that finds Christo­pher Guest show­er­ing her with offers rang­ing from a house in the South of France to a glass-bot­tomed boat. (“Didn’t you like that Palomi­no horse I bought you last year?”)

Mur­ray who con­tin­ued to explore his musi­cal urges with his SNL char­ac­ter, Nick the Lounge Singer, was replaced by David Hur­don when “Kung Fu Christ­mas” was record­ed for 1975’s Good-bye Pop album.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Bill Mur­ray, the Strug­gling New SNL Cast Mem­ber, Apol­o­gize for Not Being Fun­ny (1977)

Stream 22 Hours of Funky, Rock­ing & Swing­ing Christ­mas Albums: From James Brown and John­ny Cash to Christo­pher Lee & The Ven­tures

Stan Lee Reads “The Night Before Christ­mas,” Telling the Tale of San­ta Claus, the Great­est of Super Heroes

Bill Mur­ray Reads Great Poet­ry by Bil­ly Collins, Cole Porter, and Sarah Man­gu­so

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Her play Zam­boni Godot is open­ing in New York City in March 2017. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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