Even as an adult, one of the things I remember clearly about A Christmas Story is the mall Santa, who was actually kind of scary and not at all the jolly and adorable bearded man most kids get to see around this time of year. But who plays Santa in A Christmas Story Live!? David Alan Grier is a Tony award-nominated actor, so he was definitely the best choice for the role. As an adult, the Santa scene is probably the funniest to me now, at least when it comes to the live special on FOX, because it was the crowning comedic jewel of A Christmas Story Live!, and I don't know if it would have been nearly as funny without the chemistry of both Fred Armisen as the elf and Grier as Santa.
Grier's most recent nomination came in the form of the Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his 2012 role in Porgy and Bess. Though he might be known as one of the actors and comedic voices behind the writing on In Living Color back in the day, you might also know him as Carl the police officer in the original Jumanji, or from The Carmichael Show on NBC. But if his Santa role on A Christmas Story Live! could have been just a little larger, that would have been amazing.
Grier is no stranger to performing live on-stage, so as Santa, it wasn't a big stretch for him. But this also isn't the first time he's been a part of one of the increasingly popular live TV productions of popular movies and musicals. He also played the Cowardly Lion in the 2015 NBC production of The Wiz Live!, so again, it would have been pretty cool to see Santa's role stretched a bit further in this version of A Christmas Story. But it's still hard to find literally anything wrong with it.
Grier has been writing, acting, and producing for decades, so chances are, you've seen him in something long before he took on the role of Jolly Old Saint Nick. His voice is one that's so recognizable, you were no doubt trying to figure out who the man behind the beard was. He also periodically still does some stand-up shows, so it makes sense that his short scene in the live TV special was a comedic highlight of the entire three hour-long production.
When he's not making people laugh, Grier is just as funny and opinionated on social media and his Instagram is full of his political and social views, which is always a refreshing change from unflattering selfies and food pictures. But he also knows how to commemorate a good hotdog, and you can't fault him for that.
On A Christmas Story Live!, there were several big names tied to the cast, like Maya Rudolph and Jane Krakowski, who are both known for their humor, so it definitely wouldn't have been the same without a Santa who is also known for his comedic talents. Plus, having Armisen as the epically mean and sassy elf was exactly the right person to play opposite Grier's Santa in the musical telecast.
Like the other live TV specials from years' past, A Christmas Story Live! had its faults, but it also paid homage to the original in a heart-warming way that made it a good stand-in for the actual movie. And that's obviously thanks in part to the many actors who came together to recreate the Christmas classic. And without Grier, it definitely may have been missing the perfect Santa.
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