“Santa Claus and His Old Lady” is a classic Christmas bit by Cheech and Chong, and one of their very best-known comedy routines. It was the duo’s first single and the first thing by them that I ever heard. I remember driving back home after visiting my grandparents and it came on the radio. My parents turned up the volume and were both laughing loudly. My brother and I started laughing too even though we didn’t really get it. Their voices were funny and we knew what we were hearing was something we liked, we just didn’t know why. It was Christmas time 38 years ago. I was 7 years old at the time and it would be two more years before I saw “Up in Smoke”.
“Santa Claus and His Old Lady” did not appear on Cheech and Chong’s debut album, although it has since received continued airplay on radio stations during the Christmas season, particularly those that switch to temporary all-Christmas music formats. The routine peaked at number 4 on the Billboard Christmas Singles chart upon its original release in 1971, then peaked again at number 3 on the same chart in both 1972 and 1973.
The sketch starts with Cheech at the piano as he attempts to write a parody of “Dónde Está Santa Claus?”, Spanish for “Where is Santa Claus?”, a Christmas song from 1958, but he is having little to no success. Tommy Chong enters and reveals that he has never heard of Santa Claus and repeatedly admits he always mistakes Santa Claus for a musician . Cheech then explains the story of Santa Claus, but from a hilariously unusual perspective. Santa and his wife started out in the projects in an apartment next door to Cheech’s, after which, in no small part due to a combination of cannabis-infused brownies and other edibles for which Mrs. Claus became known for making, and the excessive noise from “hammering and pounding all night”, they were driven out and went on to form a commune up at the North Pole with a large group of dwarves, supporting themselves with both welfare and food stamps. Cheech also explains that the reason Santa Claus’s sleigh can fly is because he “took the freeway” and liberally used “magic dust” and that uncomfortable experiences with Border Patrol and redneck Southerners who threatened to cut off his long hippie hair and beard prompted him to go underground with his operation. According to Cheech, Santa Claus now works undercover as a Salvation Army bell-ringer, at which point Chong once again, and more certainly this time, asserts he really had played music with Santa Claus, outside of a store.
Cheech also explains to Chong how Santa’s sleigh is pulled by a team of reindeer…
“Some reindeers, y’know. He used ta hook them onto da sled and then he used ta stand up inside da sled and hold on to da reins and then call out their names, like, “On Donner! On, Blitzen! On Chewy! On Tavo! C’mon, Becto!” And then, the reindeers used ta take off into da sky and fly across da sky, man!”
The conversation they have that covers just how it is that Santa and the reindeer fly, use magic and distort time and space was my favorite section of the bit growing up.
Cheech: Oh, well, man, he had some magic dust, man
Chong: Some magic dust?
Cheech: Yeah, magic dust, y’know? He used ta give a little bit to da reindeer, a little bit to Santa Claus, a little bit more for Santa Claus, a little bit more…
Chong: And this would get the reindeer off, man?
Cheech: Aw, got ’em off, man? Are you kidding, man? They flew all da way around da world, man!
It’s an almost 50 year old routine and it’s still our vote for the all-time best cannabis themed holiday content we’ve ever experienced. It’s available on Spotify and Apple music, or you can just Google it and watch it on Youtube. Do yourself a favor and get really high, and then enjoy a solid seven minutes of classic Christmas comedy with Cheech and Chong this season. Happy Holidaze from all of us at Edibles Magazine.
Patrick Ian Moore