The Chanukah Song
"The Chanukah Song" is a novelty song written by comedian Adam Sandler with Saturday Night Live writers Lewis Morton and Ian Maxtone-Graham and originally performed by Sandler on Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update on December 3, 1994. Sandler subsequently performed the song as part of his stand-up act, later updating it with new lyrics. All variations center on the theme of Jewish children feeling alienated during the Christmas season, and Sandler's listing of Jewish celebrities (both real and fictional) as a way of sympathizing with their situation.
The song begins with a few lines that rhyme with Harmonica and Hanukkah, and just before the listing begins a repeated theme of the song says: "Instead of one day of presents, we get eight crazy nights!". The end of that sentence - "eight crazy nights" is shouted together with the crowd.
Part I (1994)
|"The Chanukah Song"|
|Single by Adam Sandler|
|from the album What the Hell Happened to Me?|
|Writer(s)||Adam Sandler, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Lewis Morton|
|Producer(s)||Adam Sandler, Brooks Arthur|
|Adam Sandler singles chronology|
This version appeared on Sandler's 1996 comedy album What the Hell Happened to Me?.
Persons referenced in "The Chanukah Song":
- David Lee Roth
- James Caan
- Kirk Douglas
- Dinah Shore (replaced in some performances with Pauly Shore)
- The Carnegie Deli (noted for traditional Jewish fare)
- Bowzer (Jon Bauman) from Sha Na Na
- Arthur Fonzarelli (Henry Winkler)
- Paul Newman (half-Jewish)
- Goldie Hawn (half-Jewish)
- Captain Kirk (William Shatner)
- Spock (Leonard Nimoy)
- the owner of the Seattle SuperSonics (Barry Ackerley)
- O. J. Simpson described as "not a Jew!" to great applause from the audience.
- Rod Carew (He converted) (This is an error; Carew married a Jewish woman, but he did not convert to Judaism).
- Ann Landers
- "Dear Abby" (Pauline Phillips at the time.)
- Harrison Ford (quarter-Jewish) (This is an error; Ford's mother is actually fully Jewish).
- Ebenezer Scrooge, described as not Jewish.
- The Three Stooges
- Tom Cruise's agent (Cruise is not Jewish).
During the final verse, performed originally on Saturday Night Live and on a radio cut, Sandler sings the line "Drink your gin and tonic-ah, but don't smoke marijuan-icah". On the uncut album version, and during various concert appearances, the line was changed to "Drink your gin and tonic-ah, and smoke your marijuan-icah". The uncut version, despite the reference to marijuana, receives most radio airplay today; another radio edit skips completely over the gin and tonic/marijuana line altogether.
Part II (1999)
Persons referenced in "The Chanukah Song, Part II":
- Winona Ryder (whose father is Jewish)
- Ralph Lauren
- Calvin Klein
- Louise Post and Nina Gordon of Veruca Salt
- Michael "Mike D" Diamond, Adam "MCA" Yauch, and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz of the Beastie Boys (Diamond and Yauch are Jewish, and Horovitz's father was Jewish)
- Lenny Kravitz (half-Jewish)
- Courtney Love (half-Jewish) (an error; neither of her parents was Jewish).
- Harvey Keitel
- Jennifer Beals (an error; Beals says she once wanted to be Jewish, but is not).
- Yasmine Bleeth (her father was Jewish)
- Dustin Hoffman (referred to as Dustin Hoffmanica)
- O.J. Simpson, "still not a Jew"
- Don Messick, voice actor of Scooby Doo (This is an error; Messick was not Jewish)
- Bob Dylan, "was born a jew then he wasn't but now he's back"
- Robert Levine, husband of Mary Tyler Moore
- Tiger Woods ("No, I'm not talkin' 'bout Tiger Woods".)
- Happy Gilmore, Sandler's title character in the 1996 film
- Bruce Springsteen, who "isn't Jewish", but "[Sandler's] mother thinks he is".
Part III (2002)
Persons referenced in "The Chanukah Song, Part III":
- Ross (David Schwimmer) and Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) from Friends
- David Lander (Squiggy) of Laverne & Shirley
- Debra Messing
- Melissa Gilbert (was adopted by a Jewish mother and raised in her faith)
- Michael Landon (Landon's father was Jewish).
- Jerry Lewis
- Ben Stiller (Stiller's dad Jerry Stiller is Jewish, and mom Anne Meara, who is of Irish Catholic background, converted to Reform Judaism).
- Jack Black (dad converted to Judaism, mom was born Jewish.)
- Tom Arnold ("converted to Judaism, but you guys can have him back!")
- Rob Schneider (Schneider is half-Jewish, see note below)
- Mickey Raphael (referenced by Schneider as "The guy in Willie Nelson's band who plays harmonica")
- Osama bin Laden, who is "not a big fan of the Jews".
- Sarah Hughes (half-Jewish; "her mama's Jewish")
- Harry Houdini
- David Blaine (his mother was Jewish)
- Gwyneth Paltrow (half-Jewish)
- Jennifer Connelly (half-Jewish)
- Lou Reed
- Perry Farrell
- Beck (maternal great-grandmother was Jewish)
- Paula Abdul
- Joey Ramone
- Natalie Portman (as "Natalie Portmanika")
Also, in an unedited version that Sandler sings at some of his comedy shows, he replaces the lyric "As for half-Jewish actors/Sean Penn is quite the great one/And Marlon Brando's not a Jew at all/But it looks to me like he ate one" with "Gwyneth Paltrow's half-Jewish/But a full-time Oscar winner/Jennifer Connelly's half-Jewish, too/And I'd like to put some more in her". While this version is not played on radio stations, the music video shows a background screen shows a picture of Sandler licking his lips as the Jennifer Connelly lyric is sung, with shocked laughter coming from the audience. This version is hidden about four minutes after the edited version on the Eight Crazy Nights soundtrack.
Note: Sandler does not actually mention Schneider as part of the song. He sings "we can do it all night long, with Deuce Bigalow." Bigalow is a fictional movie character played by Rob Schneider. As Sandler mentions Bigelow, Schneider walks on stage, yells, "I'm Jewish," and joins in for an abbreviated chorus. After the chorus, he sings a Jewish reference for the song (Mickey Raphael, see above), using an Elvis-esque vocal tic, to which Sandler seemingly ad libs "tiny Elvis, ladies and gentlemen, tiny Elvis!" (a reference to a Saturday Night Live skit Schneider performed with Nicolas Cage; and possibly also to Elvis Presley, who was halakhically Jewish on account of his maternal great-great-grandmother ). In the rehearsal version, Sandler then gives an aside of, "Schneider, I did not even know you were Jewish," and receives a response of "I'm a Filipino Jew, in fact, I've gotta run home and light the first pig!," and Schneider runs off. In the aired version, Schneider states, "I'm a Filipino Jew." When Sandler muses, "Filipino Jew?" Schneider responds, "There are four of us." He then puts on a blonde wig and joins the "Drei-dels," the backing chorus of children, to whom he is already similarly dressed.
Covers and spoofs
Jimmy Fallon impersonated Adam Sandler during a Celebrity Jeopardy! sketch on Saturday Night Live on October 24, 1998. In the sketch, Fallon, as Sandler, interrupts Will Ferrell's Alex Trebek by playing guitar and singing a line that's supposed to be from "The Chanukah Song", but is not an actual line from any of the three songs. In the tune of the song's chorus and first few verses, Fallon sings, "Robert De Niro, Bela Lugosi, Snuffleupagus, and Parker Posey!" Interestingly enough, De Niro, Lugosi, and Posey are (or in Lugosi's case, were) not actually Jewish, and were in fact all raised Roman Catholic. Snuffleupagus was raised Roman Catholic, but subsequently converted to Judaism.
In 2004, Jewish-Australian hardcore punk band Yidcore covered it as "The Punk Rock Chanukah Song".
In 2008, Unitarian-Universalist Evan Austin performed a parody of this song called "The Chalica Song" about the Unitarian-Universalist holiday of Chalica. Austin lists celebrities and historical persons who are "Unitarian-Universalists. Or Unitarians. Or Universalists. Or people with similar ideas." In 2009, Austin recorded "The (Second) Chalica Song"  with the same tune, but a new list of names.
In 2009, a cover of the song by Neil Diamond was released on A Cherry Cherry Christmas. This version featured several changes in lyrics, including the change from "Tom Cruise isn't but I heard his agent is" to "Tom Cruise isn't, but Jesus Christ is".
- "SNL: 12/3/1994 (Roseanne/Green Day) - Weekend Update segment". SNL transcripts. 12-03-1994. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
- Charlton, James; Shatzkin, Mike; and Holtje, Stephen. The Ballplayers: Baseball's Ultimate Biographical Reference. (New York: Arbor House/William Morrow, 1990), pp 155-156. ISBN 0-87795-984-6.
- Jenkins, Gary (March 1999). Harrison Ford: Imperfect Hero. Kensington Books, 9–12. ISBN 0-8065-8016-X.
- Jennifer Beals Interview - Apr 2004
- The Office - Diwali Song (Full), Youtube.com
- The Chalica Song, Youtube.com
- The (Second) Chalica Song, Youtube.com
- Neil Diamond Covers Adam Sandler's 'Chanukah Song', Steve Baltin, Spinner.com, September 29th 2009