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Drunk Reindeer, Severed Heads And Christmas Smackdown

 December 15, 2016 at 9:46 AM PST

Beth Accomando: Welcome to a special Christmas addition of the KPBS Cinema Junkie Podcast. I’m Beth Accomando. Okay. That should provide a clue to the kind of sick and twisted sins Cinema Junkie will be taking for this holiday episode. So consider that fair warning. I am straying a bit off the cinema path today because my two guests are so deliciously depraved that I could not resist ending the year with their annual “Christmas Smackdown” show. My guests today are Mark Nutter and Cynthia Carle. I was introduced to their work when I covered “Re-Animator the Musical” for NPR back in 2011. Mark worked with Stuart Gordon to create a musical stage version of Gordon’s 1985 splatter fest movie “Re-Animator” (there, that’s my slim film connection for this episode). And Cynthia was in the cast. I fell in love with that musical and I dedicated podcast 41 to it. If you want to go back and take a listen. Then I heard that the two of them work something called “Christmas Smackdown” that was irreverent and hilarious. So I had to see it. This year was the first time that I could actually make a show and I grabbed the two of them for a quick interview before their last performance of 2016. I am here in [indiscernible][0:02:35] General store for a very special Christmas episode. I’m here with Mark Nutter and Cynthia Carle for “Christmas Smackdown”. So, who wants to tell me what is a Christmas Smackdown? Mark Nutter: Yeah. Cynthia Carle: What is the Christmas Smackdown is a, I think in one of our years we said it was all your most cherished holiday sentiments pinned to the mat in an Argentine death choke. Mark Nutter: That one year that is exactly what it was. Cynthia Carle: And it’s a, it’s kind of what it still is. Mark Nutter: It just pretty accurate description. Beth Accomando: So what inspired this and when did it first start? Cynthia Carle: We don’t remember. Mark Nutter: We kind of remember if it was eight years ago or nine years ago. So we’re going to say 15. Cynthia Carle: Yeah, and what happened was I had a bunch of insane just wrong Christmas songs and Mark had a bunch of insane and wrong Christmas songs. So, we decided to put them together and do a show that we always done in this face called the Christmas Smackdown. And then we wrote a couple of songs together so we’ve got some that are... Mark Nutter: Created some new material, yeah. Yeah, and then we, as the years went by we kept adding and adding and adding till we have to cut things now [overlapping conversation] [00:03:53] Cynthia Carle: We do, we cut some really favorite songs. I heard about it last night from [overlapping conversation] [00:03:59] but that’s just like and one year we did it in Chicago and one year we did in New York. And so it’s that, it’s having some stretching out a little bit. Mark Nutter: Yeah, we can alternate Christmas tradition from many people, many sick people like ourselves. Beth Accomando: Now I was introduced to both of you and your work through “Re-Animator the Musical” and we just been served some dinner here. So, that Cynthia doesn’t have her stomach growling through the entire performance today. Mark Nutter: I know. Beth Accomando: So I meet you guys because of “Re-Animator the Musical” which was brilliant. So, tell me what can somebody expect from a “Christmas Smackdown” show in terms of the music? Mark Nutter: The music is, well, cheerful and bright songs that run the gamut from... Cynthia Carle: Yeah. Cheerful and bright songs that run the gamut of cheerful and bright songs down into horrible. Mark Nutter: Yeah, that deal with the alcohol. Cynthia Carle: Horrible, deathly. Mark Nutter: As an suicide decapitation. Cynthia Carle: Or some. Mark Nutter: A real obsession. Cynthia Carle: Yeah that one is... Mark Nutter: Not this year. Cynthia Carle: ...not this year. Yeah the furry song I’m sorry we are not doing furry I [indiscernible] [00:05:08] something because it’s a good song. Mark Nutter: Drunken. Cynthia Carle: Lot of alcohol. Mark Nutter: Alcohol abuse and animals misbehaving because they are inebriated. Cynthia Carle: Divorce so – and divorce. Mark Nutter: Or cannibalism, we forgot cannibalism. Beth Accomando: Cannibalism and divorce. Mark Nutter: Yeah. Cynthia Carle: It’s just, it’s Christmas, what can I tell? Beth Accomando: Well I want to play some clips that you sent me some of the songs but one of them begins like a song we all know. So the starting point for this is something very familiar and if you’re not listening carefully you may not realize that the song is marking the whole Christmas tradition. So tell me a little bit about the song before we hear any of it? Mark Nutter: I supposed we’re going to talk, you’re talking about the Santa Clause number. Beth Accomando: Yeah. Mark Nutter: Yeah. I don’t know, I just became interested in the idea of how people internalize authority. So it’s kind of about that. I feel like I ought not say anymore. Beth Accomando: So, where do you get this inspirations for these kinds of things. Because in this one you’re using a traditional song that people are familiar with. And then just going off in a completely love turned direction on the lyrics? Mark Nutter: I think we basically love Christmas music. This is our downfall. We really love it and…. Cynthia Carle: May I tell? Mark Nutter: You may, yeah. Cynthia Carle: If you haven’t seen Mark Nutter, exposed to Nat King Cole singing, Oh Come All Ye Faithful you haven’t lived. You think you know Mark Nutter and he is cynical and he’s hardassed, you know. Can I say hardass? Good and he becomes a little puppy with, a whippy puppy when he hears that song. Mark Nutter: I do. I cry a big time when I hear that. Something about it I don’t know. I don’t know... Cynthia Carle: And we do, we use sort of as ballast in that show we have a couple of really, really pretty, swear to God Christmas songs because it gives you some place to give something to bounce off in it. Mark Nutter: And we have some serious singing chaps on display on that stage. Because of Cynthia’s other life as a choral singer, she knows there’s a good singer. And you know, again, if folks from me Rihanna made her musical joining us as well and they are no slouches either. Yeah. So there are, there will be brief moments of genuine sentiments and heartfelt Christmas. Beth Accomando: The group, did they look fast? Mark Nutter: Yeah, yeah. They will rapidly be undercut, so don’t worry. A few years of slipping into sentiment will save you. Beth Accomando: Now you mentioned cannibals. Tell me a little bit about that. Mark Nutter: That’s the encore. Cynthia Carle: It’s the encore. It’s a song, it’s a true story. It’s a song called the ballad of Armin and Ben Yugan. You may know the story because it’s just the sort of thing I think you might know. Happened a little town of Rothenburg, swear to God, Rothenburg, Germany. In about 2002, this really did happen and it’s German cannibalism and you can’t have more fun than German cannibalism at Christmas. Do you really – I mean if you want, I’m not getting in to details because you need to just hear it unless you’d like… Beth Accomando: Details. Cynthia Carle: This is sickening, really. Mark Nutter: By the way after Cynthia created the song, we would perform it a few times Stuart Gardner that could have play on stage on Los Angeles called... Cynthia Carle: Called Taste. Mark Nutter: ...Taste which was based on the same incident in the – well I guess it was not at Rothenburg. Cynthia Carle: No we set it for that the playwright whose name, he was a wonderful player and I can’t remember his name. He set it in New York and it worked very well when they – and Chris McKenna from the original Rihanna movie was in that play and it was wonderful. But the song predicts that like kind of a lot. Mark Nutter: By kind of a lot, I know, yeah. Beth Accomando: Another song that you sent me that I got to listen to involves angels, and angels who aren’t necessarily doing their job. Cynthia Carle: Yes they are substandard. Substandard angels. And it’s, you know it’s not a word that really scans well or sings well so I don’t use the word substandard when I’m describing the angels. Mark Nutter: Use another way and when that’s just suitable for broadcast. Cynthia Carle: Yeah. Beth Accomando: You can say anything you want on the podcast. Cynthia Carle: Okay. Well, the song is called angels but you didn’t want to give away the story too much but it’s really, the refrain is shitty angels. It really did come about because I had so many friends who told me that they were really seeing and feeling angels just everywhere and I just went, Uh huh, and I wrote the song. Beth Accomando: Now are you both New Yorkers? Cynthia Carle: I was there for many, many years. I was acting for a long time. Broadway and not Broadway and out, jump on to a regional show, come back. So that was what I did there for a long time. Mark Nutter: I am currently a New Yorker although I lived out here in Los Angeles for about 19 years and then, yeah, I moved to New York by way of Chicago. I’ve been all over, but I’d come back here only for Christmas. Beth Accomando: I was just going to say I was born in New York but your music and your sense of humor seems to have a little bit of a New York slant because there is this edge to it and I don’t know what else to describe but there’s a certain tone to it that feels very much at home. Cynthia Carle: That makes me happy that that strikes you that way, that makes me feel very good. Mark Nutter: Yeah, good, good. Yeah it’s gotten a little cynical, a little sophisticated, smart, elegant. Cynthia Carle: Yeah a little bit of fuck you too. Is that how you [indiscernible] [00:19:29]... Mark Nutter: Yeah a lot of fuck you in there. Cynthia Carle: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Mark Nutter: Like we’ve open the gates now for shitty and now fuck you. Cynthia Carle: Well, you know I got permission from Beth. Mark Nutter: Well, it’s all right. Beth Accomando: So, when you’re doing music like this which is humorous, are you approaching it with a very, from a very serious angle? I mean, so how do you tackle the comedy in music? How is that different from something else? Cynthia Carle: I don’t think things are funny if you are not taking them seriously. I think you take a very seriously and then it’s funny. And if you’re trying to be funny on top of funny, you’re double joking it and you’re going to fail. So for the most part, our approach is pretty straight ahead. I suppose except when it’s not but you see that… Beth Accomando: That doesn’t mean you don’t end up screaming. I mean you can certainly end up screaming but it’s still coming from some kind of real. Mark Nutter: Yeah, real saying yeah. Beth Accomando: Yeah. Mark Nutter: For me so frequently, it’s anger I think. Rage and anger. Yeah, I’m not alone in this, you know, Rollo May said creativity is born of anger. So, it’s like [indiscernible] [00:20:37] Cynthia Carle: Then you went out punch somebody. Mark Nutter: I did too, yeah. Cynthia Carle: It’s terrible. Mark Nutter: And then you wrote a book because you’re so angry. Beth Accomando: So give me a little background in terms of how you’ve come to this place, what’s your kind of background is in music? Mark Nutter: Oh, in music? You know, I’m the, let me jack of many trades, master of none, pretty classic. I started acting in school but I always have that little music going on. I play piano in church that was when, you know I start playing piano when I was like five or six years old and I was much more employable as a piano player than I was in an actor, so I chase that down so... Cynthia Carle: You said when you were five, that’s impressive you know. Mark Nutter: Yeah. Cynthia Carle: People want that. Mark Nutter: They wouldn’t let me in the clubs, they didn’t want to hire me and then I start writing and then I get jobs out here in television and movies writing. So, I’ve been all over the map but music just has that special tug, always keeps coming back to music for me. Beth Accomando: And did you actually study music? Mark Nutter: Never. Self-taught. Cynthia Carle: Yeah like myself taught because I sing, I did musicals. You know, I’ve done that that thing you do when you can sing and I don’t like a lot of musicals. The ones I like I really love but for the most part, I [indiscernible] [00:21:51] and but I did some and I know, we share that. But I did the Broadway musical deal and then I came to LA and started writing a book and I became a screenwriter and that really was, that kind of really took over my life in a big way and I started singing, I started performer as a singer songwriter really because of old Melanie, Melanie Chartoff. Do you know Melanie? Beth Accomando: Mm-hmm. Cynthia Carle: Yeah. Well, she said, you know you got to start doing this at more than just my house. She said you got to get out and do this. So she made me do it. I owe her. And then we just, this sort of took off as yet another thing but… Mark Nutter: Yeah and I was, after not getting work in Hollywood, after getting work in Hollywood then I got no work in Hollywood, I was terribly depressed and I say I should come back to the music and so I started writing a show with three friends from Chicago but also, been transplanted out here and that show was called The Bicycle Men and I get to do a bunch of songs in that and get back to them, it was really fun. And a mutual friend of ours, Elaine Aronson was working with my wife, was a comedy writer at the time and said, you should meet my friend Cynthia Carle. Cynthia Carle: Here’s the story. I saw The Bicycle Men, Elaine said you got to see the show. I saw The Bicycle Men, this is true. I saw The Bicycle Men seven times before I ever met Mark Nutter, that’s how great it was, that’s how funny it was. And I don’t see things twice. Mark Nutter: And Elaine said, you should meet my friend. She’s seen your show seven times and I said, Why? Would I want to meet this woman? She sounds insane. But I did meet her and she was insane, but it was a very sort of a complimentary insanity to my own. Cynthia Carle: Yeah then we discovered that we were in fact siblings and that was the most fun. Beth Accomando: Well, the fact that you mentioned you don’t like musicals on the whole may explain why I love your music so much. Because I share that same feeling. Mark Nutter: I know. Cynthia Carle: But how? Yeah, I think there should be a little secret society of us who don’t. Beth Accomando: Yeah. Mark Nutter: Yeah. Cynthia Carle: Who don’t have that love. Beth Accomando: I’m not a very musical person, I actually consider myself quite musically challenged and tone deaf and can’t keep a beat or anything. But I want to go back to your “Re-Animator” work just because talk about seeing something a lot of times, I think I may have seen that more than two dozen times, including crossing the Atlantic to see you guys in Scotland. But the music never got tiring. Like it never gets tiring. I always feel like on some level, I’m finding something new in it. So, how do you accomplish something like that? What is it, to somebody who doesn’t understand music, what are you doing that’s different from what a lot of other people do? Mark Nutter: Well, if I knew the answer to that question, I would have done it over and over again many times. Cynthia Carle: We could bottle it and sell it. Mark Nutter: I could bottle it and sell it. I don’t know. It just kind of came rushing out of me. I see “Re-Animator” and I’m like, where did that come from? Where does that sound come from? Cynthia Carle: Well, it’s such a great unbelievably great score. I just want everybody in the world to hear it. Mark Nutter: I don’t know. Cynthia Carle: Because you just did something. Mark Nutter: I just had some vague ideas that I could well, maybe it’s a horror musical. I should listen to a lot of Bernard Herrmann which I did and stole from him and just kind of grabbed at any sort of notion that was available to get the music out. And Stuart Gordon never done a musical before and I just started writing scene after scene. He’s said, oh great, keep going, keep going, keep going. There is not much calculation that I knew at all. Cynthia Carle: It’s just such a gorgeous, gorgeous piece of work. Mark Nutter: Yeah. Cynthia Carle: I look forward to. You know the original cast album is going to be a thing very soon, you know about that? Mark Nutter: Yeah we recorded this summer and you know watch the space for more details. Beth Accomando: Well, it just seems like the music is complex, like it doesn’t, it seems like there’s multiple things going on at the same time in terms of the music and in terms of what’s being sung as well. Mark Nutter: Yeah. Again, I got artsy, sometimes it seems like important to be artsy. Cynthia Carle: You did that great structural work, his songs and that show moved the story forward. They don’t, they are not just – they are rarely just a kind of a sidebar for a character or something. That really usually making something happen. Mark Nutter: Well, it was helpful to have a strong story to begin with and I did you know the script that Dennis Paoli and Stuart and William Norris came up with is a pretty clean narrative line. So that work was done for me and I just had to go and Herbert West is an amazing character. He’s kind of like what musical likes, you know that larger than life character with a huge drive like Mama Rose and Gypsy. Beth Accomando: In terms of singing it because you were one of the performers in “Re-Animator”, in terms of singing it, what was that like and what did you find enjoyable about doing it repeatedly? Cynthia Carle: Doing it repeatedly, well, I’m used to doing eight shows a week deal so that never gets old for me when it’s something good, when it’s something really worthwhile. And Mark’s stuff, it’s not easy to sing. He’s got intervals from space and they are very, very tough. It was particularly tough for the people who don’t read music which gives a lot of pounding out of parts. So I was a little bit luckier in that way because I could read it but it’s complex. Like you said, it’s complex and twisty and it’s got such excitement in it all the time that it made it very singable. Beth Accomando: And it also seems to be, in terms of style, it’s like, there’s one that sounds like a Tango and there’s one that sounds like it’s out the Sound of Music and then there’s another one that, so you seemed, you didn’t stick to just one particular style. Mark Nutter: Oh, no. Well, that’s my comedic sense showing. Like if I thought something could be funny and then I’d grab it. I thought that Dan, talking of the Dean about how it just start care, brought back to life. That should be modeled on, I could have danced all night from My Fair Lady. Cynthia Carle: You probably can tell now that you think about it. Mark Nutter: The Tango between Dr. Hill and Herbert West you know Tango, I thought this was interesting as I found out what I was writing it is a dance that was performed between two men in Argentina. Men in brothel waiting for the next Cordezan so to pass the time these men would dance the Tango with each other. And I thought wow! That would be fun to see these guys doing a Tango together so. It is where ‘‘I will be famous’’ came from. Beth Accomando: When you return back to “Christmas Smackdown” there are some other, I think you called it the cheer mix? Mark Nutter: Christmas cheer. Beth Accomando: Christmas cheer. So talk a little bit about what is Christmas cheer? Mark Nutter: [Laughing] that is what Christmas means to me. [Laughing] Cynthia Carle: Remember how we mentioned how alcohol and alcoholism being a running thread through the… Mark Nutter: Yeah, yeah I don’t think you need to know much more about that other than just getting blotted around the holiday seems to be my new tradition. Beth Accomando: For people who can’t be here explain a little bit about what this space is like and you have a very cozy stage here and a very cozy... [Laughing]. Mark Nutter: You know like the general store here is impossibly clean. I guess it was built by a Hollywood prop master. Cynthia Carle: I think it was here before that but then it became this prop shop. This is a, there’s a guy who sets up all these. I mean you are looking at all these amazing stuff and there is a lot of stuff that are here on the shelves for sale there is a little platte teddy bears, your kingdom rather, teddy bears over there… Mark Nutter: So right in the middle of the room and it just, it looks like the cracker barrel but you are finding in Evansville Indiana. Cynthia Carle: Except it is real. Mark Nutter: Except it is real, yeah. Cynthia Carle: Real, and there is a tin, pounded tin ceiling that’s real. The floors are wood. It is tiny the stage is through pretty small. Mark Nutter: Follow the crown and the space. Cynthia Carle: Oh yeah. We’ve done it. We have framed I think we went up once to 58 and it was insane but it can be done. Mark Nutter: Yeah. Cynthia Carle: And we may be doing it tonight. Mark Nutter: And it is such a clean sort of environment, it sets off our songs rather nicely too. Cynthia Carle: We have to ask them to not run the Espresso machine during songs. They have got a very good about that now. Beth Accomando: So, do each of you have a favorite song in this collection? Mark Nutter: It is always kind of the newest one you know. I mean I like doing the stuff that works but you know it is my writer talking you know than when you write something new and you do it for the first time, you get laughs and that is my new favorite. There it is. Cynthia Carle: You know it is funny I realized last night when I was standing and listening to it, my favorite song is a song that I wrote that he sings and it just... first last night you killed me in it and I was just, I was sitting and thinking like wow I actually wrote that and Mark is actually singing and it actually made me very happy. Beth Accomando: And what is the name for that one? Cynthia Carle: It is called home for Christmas. Beth Accomando: I am afraid to ask what it is about. [Laughing]. Mark Nutter: Las Vegas is involved. [Laughing]. Cynthia Carle: And what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Mark Nutter: Right, yeah. [Laughing]. Beth Accomando: So what is it that draws you to writing these kind of songs? Mark Nutter: Oh, I think that they are necessary. I don’t hear anybody else really doing them to the extent that we do. Cynthia Carle: Pardon me if I am chewing under your mic again I am just starving. Beth Accomando: If you want to bite to this please feel free. Cynthia Carle: It’s where the cynicism that comes right butt up against the incredible sentimentality we both have. And we end up writing a show like.... Mark Nutter: Yeah. I think that is good. Cynthia Carle: You know what I mean. Mark Nutter: I think that’s good. I think that’s right. You know, I still, in spite of myself I still give into some gooey Christmas feelings you know. I try to snap out of it, that is when the alcohol helps again. Beth Accomando: Somebody told me you wrote a song about is it baby and the paper shredder? Mark Nutter: Yeah the baby shredders. Oh yeah it is marvelous and we start of rather good music video of it too that Cynthia featured in. Cynthia Carle: Yes, go to YouTube and look for Mark Nutter Baby Shredder. Seriously. Mark Nutter: Yeah. It is about a man with a dream who goes to the patent office and tries to patent his baby shredder as a way to prevent identity theft. Cynthia Carle: [Laughing] it is one of the songs of his that I have had friends say I’m sorry that is just going too far for me [Laughing]. Mark Nutter: It seems to me one of the reasons that I think that Stuart Gordon pegged me to write “Re-Animator” based on that, and said, this might be the guy. Cynthia Carle: I was just going to say the opposite of YouTube looking at baby shredder angels. Mark Nutter: Is there… Cynthia Carle: There is a video of angels online. The shitty angels on. Go to Cynthia Carle Angels. Beth Accomando: Out of these two songs you are going to be playing out tonight, which one do you think goes too far? Is there one? Mark Nutter: I don’t know if we have accomplished that, have we? Cynthia Carle: No I am thinking of the certain moments of the cannibalism event might, may be kick it out, where people really don’t want to go. Mark Nutter: Yeah, yeah I think so... Cynthia Carle: Some people. Mark Nutter: Yeah, there are couple of... Cynthia Carle: What else? Mark Nutter: ...mental pictures that paints… Cynthia Carle: Exactly, exactly. Mark Nutter: ...the kinds… Cynthia Carle: Oh, and also we heard, last night we heard a lot of ooh, ouch kind of stuff but we were singing our divorce song kind of we wrote together. it is called All The Best. It is two people wishing each other all the best. Beth Acamando: This is a very intimate space. You can’t see the audience very well and their reactions. So, what kind of reactions do you get? Are you getting people who are fans of yours and completely go along, or do you ever get that moment where there’s a gasp? Cynthia Carle: There’s a moment where there’s a little bit of a chill of that feeling of, am I suppose to laugh at this? It’s a song called The Fundamentals of Christmas, and it’s two fundamentalist Christians trying to come to terms with the fact that Jesus was Jewish. And you are, there’s a little moment sometimes where people new to it are going, do I get to laugh here or not? And then by the end of the tune, yes, they’re laughing. Mark Nutter: Yeah, actually couple of people walked out. Last thing. Cynthia Carle: We did lose some people. Mark Nutter: Yeah. Cynthia Carle: And we don’t know why. Mark Nutter: We don’t know why? Cynthia Carle: Who are those people and where did they go? Mark Nutter: We hope they were offended, you know. It probably be just something minor like I had to feed the meter, but if you’d like too I think we’ve offended them. Beth Accamando: Well, this notion of offending people with humor is something especially right now with this year’s politics. Do you feel there is a need to offend people through humor and what does that serve? Cyntia Carle: It’s just we’re visual. I could show you the Ven diagram where I think, you know, obscene is over here in this go and humor is over here, and then they intersect, you know, and in that little space where they intersect, there is stuff that’s really filthy and funny. But a lot of stuff that’s really filthy just isn’t funny. And lot of stuff that’s funny isn’t filthy. So, it really doesn’t – you know what I mean about the Ven diagram? Mark Nutter: I know. I used the example of, you know, my comedic heroes are Monty Python and I always think about Mr. Creasaude throwing up in the French restaurant repeatedly. You know, these guys were not dummies, but somehow they got away with it. You know, when smart guys do really gross and horrible humor, I’m there, you know. If they’re not that smart or if they haven’t done something that’s not gross and it’s still funny then, you know, what am I trying to say here? I don’t know. Cynthia Carle: For me the big fat political humor that I know there’s going to be a lot up. It’s kind of, it’s almost he is – I’m sorry, the Donald Trump is such a wide, that’s a barn door of target you cannot miss. And I just don’t write stuff that hits that’s kind of – I’ll find some little corner of observation or something that makes me go, what’s that thing in the corner? Mark Nutter: Yeah, sure. Yeah, every bar corner in the scoop. Cynthia Carle: You know what I mean? Yeah. Mark Nutter: Yeah. A friend did a musical review in Chicago this fall called Fuck Trump, where she approached all the songwriters she knew and asked them if they would like to contribute something and I did and then I’m realizing, boy, this is awfully familiar territory, and every song is going to have a tiny hands reference and a hair reference, and build the wall reference. You know, it’s just – it’s kind of limited. So, I think in a bigger picture I just wanted people to get giddy and silly. You know, I think that would be a bigger service, I think. Beth Accomando: So, you’ve said you’ve been doing this show for 8, possibly 15 years. Mark Nutter: Yes. Beth Accomando: And you keep adding to it. So, how do you keep it fresh and how do you keep your interests and excitement about it up each year? Cynthia Carle: It’s a short season for one thing. Mark Nutter: Yeah. Cynthia Carle: You know, we slam this thing up. We do it for three nights or two nights and then we’re gone. So, it’s not... Mark Nutter: Yeah, and I don’t perform that much outside of – this is my big moment on stage, you know. It’s like I rehearse for years and I have three shows and then I go back and look forward to the next year. So, the excitement is no trouble, you know. It’s like a big event. It would be a different story it’s like we’re doing the Broadway thing, you know, like eight shows a week then it would become a grind. Cynthia Carle: I think that would kill you because I know what your attention span is about doing your stuff over and over. Mark Nutter: Yeah, yeah. Cynthia Carle: I’m used to it. I can do that for some reasons. That’s an okay for me. Mark Nutter: Yeah, I know I would be, oh, God, I played piano for long running shows. Boy, after three months I was just praying for actors to fall or forget lines. Just anything to shake things up a little bit. Beth Accomando: Is there a place for you to play this kind of music or to find an audience for this kind of music, is it hard? Is it a small audience? And do you basically just kind of do this on the side while you have other jobs? Cynthia Carle: Well, yeah like I say, I’m a screenwriter and I also just finished a novel. So this is like, this is and I do the songwriter thing as well. But here’s what we were talking about last night, what we feel like we need is somebody who maybe out there who is a producer kind of person with massive energy, a massive idea, who gets what we’re doing and is an intersection to the rest of the, with the rest of the world. Do you know what I mean? So like that could be the conduit... Beth Accomando: Conduit. Cynthia Carle: Thank you, to the rest of people. Yeah, it’s that we find that person who can connect us up with audiences and then, you know, we are, we would love to just have this rolling. We did it in Chicago with four people that were not us. So, that was cool because we realized the material. Mark Nutter: Obviously one of them us. Cynthia Carle: A single one of them was us and [indiscernible] [00:47:16] I feel like we know that the material stands up without us, which is cool. And you’ll see tonight we’ve given away a lot of our songs to these wonderful people who are in the show with us, so. Beth Accomando: All right. Well, thank you both. They’re playing the music, they’re killing everybody, so. Mark Nutter: It’s transition, yeah. Cynthia Carle: Yeah. Thank you so much. Beth Accomando. I am your fan. Mark Nutter: Yes. Cathy Carle: I think you’re so great. Mark Nutter: And thank you for the Christmas treats. Best made Christmas treats. Beth Accomando: There’s alcohol involved. Cynthia Carle: Yes. Mark Nutter: With alcohol involved. Cynthia Carle: Yes. Let’s go. Mark Nutter: Give them all the bases. Cynthia Carle: Where are we seven years? Beth Accomando: Thanks for listening to this sick and twisted holiday edition of the KPBS Cinema Junkie Podcast. If this has put you in a charitable giving mode, then please go to and give till you can give no more. We’ll be ever thankful. But if this episode has turned you into a Scrooge, then maybe you could head over to iTunes and just give the podcast a review. That doesn’t cost you anything but a little bit of your time. Thanks again for listening to my podcast throughout the year and letting me share my passion for all things weird and wonderful. Next year I’ll have episodes on John Carpenter, [indiscernible][0:49:01] and much more. I wish you the best this holiday season and the happiest of New Years. 2017 can’t possibly be worst than 2016, but just in case it is, I’ll leave you with this little ditty from Christmas Smackdown. So until next year, this is Beth Accomando, your resident Cinema Junkie.

Cinema Junkie closes out 2016 with a tribute to the irreverent and hilarious musical revue "Christmas Smackdown." Warning: What follows pushes the boundaries of good taste to the breaking point ... and beyond.

Warning: What follows pushes the boundaries of good taste to the breaking point... and beyond.

I am a longtime fan of Mark Nutter and Cynthia Carle and their annual "Christmas Smackdown" Show and just wanted to highlight this interview from 2016 when I went up to L.A. to see the show at the Cahuenga General Store and talk to the mad creators.

The 2019 version of the show is currently running and you can get tickets here.

I am straying off the cinema path for this podcast because my two guests are so deliciously depraved that I could not resist ending the year with their annual "Christmas Smackdown" show.

I was introduced to the work of Mark Nutter and Cynthia Carle when I covered "Re-Animator the Musical" for NPR back in 2011.

Nutter worked with Stuart Gordon to create a musical stage version of Gordon’s 1985 splatter fest movie "Re-Animator" (there, that’s the slim film connection for this episode) and Carle was in the cast. I fell in love with the musical and with their work. Check out Cinema Junkie podcast 41 for my love letter to "Re-Animator the Musical."

Then I heard that they do something called "Christmas Smackdown" that was "all of your most cherished holiday sentiments pinned down to the mat in an Argentine death choke." Needless to say I had to see it. But this was the first year I could actually make it up to Los Angeles to see the show.

It was all that I could have hoped for and more. It went beyond irreverent and into the realm of bad taste ... but bad taste of the most delectable kind. Here's a sample, a song called "Angels."

Cynthia Carle: Angels

In the podcast, you can also hear cheery Christmas songs about severed heads, cannibalism, suicide and a drunk reindeer with a thing for Santa.

And here is the video we reference in the podcast of Nutter's song "The Baby Shredder," which is most definitely sick and twisted. You have been warned again!

Mark Nutter: The Baby Shredder Song

"Christmas Smackdown" was produced by Christopher Reed. In addition to Nutter and Carle, the performers included: Djuna Copley-Woods, Brian Gillespie, Lyndsay Nicole Hailey, Liesel Hanson, Christina "X" Sheldon, Graham Skipper, and Joseph of Windows to Sky. (Gillespie, Hanson and Skipper are all alums of "Re-Animator the Musical.")

Please note that Cinema Junkie will be taking a brief vacation and will return in January. Thanks for listening throughout the year. If you are in the holiday giving spirit, consider donating to this listener-supported podcast at or for a cheaper but no less appreciated option go to iTunes and leave a review.