Like biting into a fresh sugar cookie loaded with holiday frosting, the best Christmas comedy episodes are comfort food for your holiday-worn soul. So sit back, tune out the family mayhem, and let yourself float into the ether with these hilarious holiday classics.
30 Rock: Christmas Special (Season 3, Ep. 6)
Bob's Burgers: Christmas in the Car (Season 4, Ep. 8)
Cheers: Christmas Cheers (Season 6, Ep. 12)
Community: Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas (Season 2, Ep. 11)
Frasier: Merry Christmas, Mrs. Moskowitz (Season 6, Ep. 10)
Friends: The One With the Holiday Armadillo (Season 7, Ep. 10)
Futurama: Xmas Story (Season 2, Ep. 8)
It's Always Sunny: A Very Sunny Christmas (Season 6, Ep. 13)
The Office: Christmas Party (Season 2, Ep. 10)
South Park: Mr. Hankey, The Christmas Poo (Season 1, Ep. 9)
This aptly named episode sees Jack trying to avoid his own Christmas traditions — namely being ridiculed by his mother — by forcing the TGS staff to put on a live Christmas special on NBC at the very last minute. Meanwhile, Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon is forced to create her own tradition because her mother “doesn’t feel up” to hosting Christmas this year, believing her 30-something daughter should “have her own family by now.”
There’s plenty of hilarity to go around, but the undisputed star of the show is the late, great Broadway legend Elaine Stritche, who plays the smothering mother to Alec Baldwin’s Jack Donaghy. The two find their way, and end the show with one of the best TV renditions of “The Christmas Song” since Nat King Cole.
It’s a mad dash for late holiday decor in this absolute beauty of a Christmas ep from Bob’s Burgers‘ fourth season. Thanks to Linda’s over-eager tree trimming (starting just after Halloween) the Belchers find themselves on a quixotic quest for a third Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. What they find instead is danger on the highway after getting on the wrong side of a long-haul trucker in a menacing, candy-cane semi.
Will the family get their tree home safely? Will Gene get to hear the offbeat holiday tune, Jingle in the Jungle? Is that Bobcat Goldthwait’s voice? The answers lie within this laugh-out-loud episode starring everyone’s favorite working-class family.
Frasier makes another appearance on our list, this time in his Boston incarnation as he haunts the halls of everyone’s favorite pub with Christmas misery. He’s not alone in his humbugging, as Sam realizes he’s the only one on the staff not to give the boss, Rebecca, a Christmas gift. Meanwhile, Norm’s found himself some seasonal work and his club of fellow Santas fill the bar with red suits to tie one on at the end of the season.
Sam finds his very own Christmas angel in the form of a beautiful flight attendant, who’s happy to help him in his search for a last-minute gift. But as you might have guessed, hilarious chaos ensues when Sam accidentally gives Rebecca a gift that’s well outside his budget. It’s a lovely taste of yesteryear from the sitcom that created NBC’s “Must See TV” powerhouse.
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Things somehow get even weirder (and more heartwarming) as Community throws out its usual live-action format for stop-motion animation. Abed, the show’s resident weirdo, is alarmed when he realizes he’s the only one of his motley crew of study buddies who is suddenly seeing the world in Christmas-style stop-motion. While Abed’s imagination runs wild, the rest of his friends try to help him, while the school’s psych professor Ian Duncan (played by John Oliver) tries to exploit his psychotic break for glory.
This episode is as bizarre and brilliant as it is hilarious, while Abed learns the true meaning of friendship on his animated Christmas Quest. Lovers of Christmas classics like Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer will feel right at home in this musical menagerie that gets to the heart of what family truly means during the holidays.
The vast majority of hijinks involving everyone’s favorite pretentious radio psychiatrist stem from misunderstandings, and this episode is no different. It all begins when Frasier runs into a charming older woman while doing some last-minute Christmas shopping, in which she is inadvertently convinced Frasier is Jewish. After some pleasantries, the woman sets him up with her daughter, which creates an escalating series of problems.
The episode offers plenty of comedic twists and turns in that oh-so-classy Frasier way, including an old-fashioned family shout-fest. It’s the perfect substitute if you’re alone this year and missing your usual family arguments over politics or which in-law brought the boxed wine.
Keeping on theme, Christmas and Hanukkah comedically clash as Ross is determined to teach his Christmas-obsessed son, Ben, the meaning of the Festival of Lights. From a distance, there are few good reasons for Ross to don an armadillo costume in this ep, but a lack of planning and a will to force his son to learn about the Geller’s background lead to a cascading display of costumes from the friends, famously described by Rachel as “the Easter Bunny’s funeral.”
It’s a heartwarming take on multi-cultural holiday celebrations and, true to form, Ben does eventually listen to the Holiday Armadillo’s words of historical wisdom. Meanwhile, the costumes and hilarious antics add up to some great laughs.
Fry’s cultural confusion is generally less apparent than you’d expect from someone who spent a millennium in an ice box. But when the time-skipping delivery boy learns about Xmas (no, not Christmas) he begins to learn just how lost in time he really is. The episode centers around a maniacal Santa robot who terrorizes the city each year at Christmas time by murdering anyone who has been “naughty” which is, essentially, everyone.
Fry and Leela bond over their feelings of loss — Fry for his family and Leela for the family she never had. It’s a heartwarming episode, even as the ridiculousness of Santa-bot’s mayhem takes center stage, leading to the usual alchemy of sci-fi comedy Futurama does so well.
If you’ve had enough heartwarming laughs for one evening, leave it to the It’s Always Sunny in Philidelphia crew to serve up some pure, unadulterated irreverence. Fair warning: this episode is not for the faint of heart, but it is perhaps the funniest episode on this entire list. It all starts when Dee and Dennis decide it’s time to teach Frank a lesson about his nasty Christmas tradition of buying the presents they want most for himself — and rubbing it in their faces.
Meanwhile, Mac and Charlie take a walk down memory lane and begin to find out their own, time-honored Christmas traditions are not at all what they thought. It all culminates in a shockingly bloody trip to the mall, and a full-on Christmas beat-down. In between, the laughs will make you cry so keep the tissues ready.
If you can only watch one Christmas episode from everyone’s favorite paper company, it has to be Christmas Party. This hilarious cringe-fest starts with a tree that’s way too big and ends with the most coveted teapot in the state of Pennsylvania and a drunken mess. There’s plenty of silliness throughout, but this episode’s best antics begin when Michael turns the office’s Secret Santa gift exchange into White Elephant on a whim. (Thanks for going homemade, Phyllis.)
What ensues is what Dwight calls “Machiavelli meets…Christmas” as everyone vies for the top prize, Michael’s $400 video iPod. (Ah, simpler times.) We won’t spoil the outcome, but suffice it to say that the gift trading is fast and furious, and emotions, as usual, run high.
It’s back to basics for our South Park pick, as you really can’t watch any of Trey and Matt’s gloriously outrageous holiday specials without watching the episode that started it all. The series was just picking up steam (and enemies at the FCC) when our heroes meet up with one of the most ridiculous Christmas mascots of all time, Mr. Hankey. When Kyle feels like an outcast, he meets an enchanted new Christmas ambassador from, well, down under.
If you think a magical piece of human feces can’t bring wholesome merriment to an entire community, well, prepare to be bemusedly proven wrong. This episode started South Park’s grand tradition of holiday classics, and while you can argue which is best on plenty of levels, you simply can’t go wrong with the OG.