Behind The Song: “The Worst, Worst Christmas of Our Lives” by Amber Ruffin

“This Christmas is going to be a tough one for a lot of us,” said Seth Meyers, host of Late Night with Seth Meyers, in an introduction for his writer Amber Ruffin’s newly composed Christmas song.

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“In addition to the stress of the pandemic,” he said, “a lot of us won’t be able to see our families on Christmas Day. So here to cheer us up with a song about Christmas this year, one of our writers, Amber Ruffin.”

Amber Ruffin with Seth Meyers on Late Night.
“If we get big fat laughs, he is thrilled. It doesn’t matter that the laughs aren’t for him.”

Although his show is being broadcast presently from studio 8G at 30 Rock again, after months of being produced in Seth’s home during lockdown, it has no studio audience. Even the band is still at home, playing remotely. That lack of other humans added an extra surreal dimension to the holiday proceedings, as Amber — bedecked in a formal holiday dress — appeared in the empty bleachers to sing her song.

She then proceeded to sing her hilarious and sadly true Christmas song for 2020, which — in addition to the humor — is a beautifully crafted song. As songwriters know, writing a song that is genuinely funny isn’t easy, which is why there are so few. This uses the holiday song form as a perfect template.

To joyful Christmastime music, she opens with “Do you like trash? Santa hopes that you do. It’s a holiday alone, you’ll have to celebrate on your own.” 

She’s the first black woman writer at a network late-night show and has become beloved there both as a writer and performer. Seth Meyers offered her the job after she auditioned for SNL years ago during their search for black women to join the cast, and famously failed. Seth recognized her talent then and invited her to join his staff when he started his show.

Recently she started her own show on Peacock entitled The Amber Ruffin Show. Like everything she does, it is unique: it’s a late-night talk show with no guests. Instead, she brings her thoughts, sketches, songs and more. As on Late Night, she is uniquely capable of expressing the reality of racism in America without abandoning the comedy. She is always hilarious, and walks that fine line between humor and informed activism as deftly as Trevor Noah and few others. 

She attributes much of her success to the generosity and savvy of Seth Meyers, as she explained in an interview on radio’s Fresh Air.

“Seth does not care who gets the laugh,” she said. “He has this, like, team mentality. And a lot of people don’t. But if he is around while the audience is laughing, he counts it. And so if we get big fat laughs, he is thrilled. It doesn’t matter that the laughs aren’t for him. And I don’t think a lot of people are that way.”

She’s also an author, and with her sister Lacey, has come out recently with a book of true stories about this same theme, You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories about Racism.

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