At the absolute earliest, the Christmas season typically starts toward the middle of dessert at Thanksgiving. But Jane Lynch, three-time Emmy and Golden Globe winner, declares that the holiday season starts now, and who are we to argue?
The Christmas spirit is strong with Lynch, and that's driven her to record a new album, A Swingin' Little Christmas!
featuring Kate Flannery, Tim Davis, and the The Tony Guerrero Quintet. Hence the early start to the holidays: As Lynch jokes to SFist, "I want people to buy the album, and I just declared it Christmas time, so I hope they'll start buying it now."
Lynch, who was raised near Chicago and trained at Second City and Steppenwolf Theatre, is known for her TV appearances, perhaps most prominently as Sue Sylvester in Glee, Amy in Angel From Hell, and as host of Hollywood Game Night. Her film credits include memorable appearances in the works of Christopher Guest, from Best in Show through the recent Mascots, and in 2013 she made her Broadway debut in Annie as Miss Hannigan.
Lynch will perform selections from her new album at Feinstein’s at the Nikko on December 8, 9, and 10 — fully in the swing of the Christmas season. Tickets for that are available now starting at $90. As on the album, Lynch will be accompanied by the Tony Guerrero Quintet as well as Davis, the arranger for Glee, and Flannery, known for her performance as Meredith Palmer on The Office. In anticipation — and in celebration of the newly announced start to the Christmas season — SFist interviewed Lynch below.
SFist: You joked that it's Christmas already, but when does this whole thing really start for you?
Jane Lynch: WelI, I think, because you don't want to get sick of it, I always try to hold off before December 1 before I start incorporating Christmas into my life. You don't want to saturate it.
And when does it end? January 1st? February?
Lynch: Oh I stop right after Christmas. As a kid I was a big Christmas lover, I would love when we would put up the tree, I was in charge of the ambiance. I loved that feeling of Christmas.
So it's still that way now?
Lynch: Well, some years as a child, I wouldn't get the spirit, and I'd get so sad. And in my adult years, I'm in California, and we don't celebrate it as much here. I don't go to malls, so I don't see all the decorations. But when I go home to Chicago... Chicago is a Christmas town, the Christmas spirit there is welcomed in my heart. I love the same rituals in my family: We eat the same food, the same people come over.
You told Bon Appétit that you celebrate with McDonald's food — is that so?
Lynch: As a kid, I remember sticking my nose in the bag and smelling those fries... and that was Christmas.
What other traditions were there?
Lynch: We also had particular albums: Firestone released a Christmas album every year with big singing stars of the era, the more popular stars, not the rock stars, with all these different carols. That's very much what we modeled our album, A Swingin' Little Christmas! after. We've got our own standards and our own takes, you'll recognize them. At home, that's what we would do play the same stuff all over again.
One of the great things about Christmas, especially growing up, were the specials — the animated specials, the musical specials, and we always looked forward to that. We're definitely harkening back to that. We're kind of retro to begin with, we play music of the early '50s and '60s, and this is gonna have the same kind of corny comedy too, and musically, if I may say so myself, it's just gorgeous.
What are some of your favorite cuts rom the album?
Lynch: "We Three Kings" has beautiful harmony and beautiful backup — I really like the tight three part harmony we do. There's also "Up on the Housetop," a really jazzy, sweet version of it thanks to Tim Davis, our vocal arranger who also arranged everything on Glee. There's a gorgeous a cappella version of "Coventry Carol," Kate Flannery sings it. It's a lot minor chords, it's very dramatic, it's one of the most beautiful things. So, at the show, we're basically performing the album.
Setting aside the holidays for a moment, I wanted to ask about Mascots. How was making that movie: Did you enjoy working with anyone new, or seeing the usual Christopher Guest cohort?
Lynch: I got to work with Ed Begley Jr. — it was the first time he and I had scenes together in these movies. He was so funny and so smart, so the idea that his character had [spoiler] a micropenis... that was so funny, and I didn't know that until we were shooting. And just to be back with everybody, it was really lovely.
What else are you working on, other than spreading holiday magic?
Lynch: Tomorrow I start shooting what will be a two-episode arc on Criminal Minds. I'm coming back to it — it's what I did it before Glee.
And where can people find the album?
Jane Lynch appears at Feinstein’s at the Nikko on December 8, 9, and 10, with tickets available now and starting at $90.