Watch Alan Alda duet with Carol Burnett as a shopping mall Santa
"Nobody Does It Like Me" ends with a kiss between the two TV icons.
When Christmas came around in 1974, both Alan Alda and Carol Burnett were at the top of their games, both starring in TV shows that had snagged 10 Emmy nominations a piece that year.
While The Carol Burnett Show relied exclusively on laughs to generate popular and critical acclaim, Alda’s show M*A*S*H gave Alda room to dance the line between drama and comedy. Still, Alda’s character Hawkeye was known as a wiseacre and any excuse to watch Alda goof off was an indulgent part of the show for fans.
That’s why it became an extra special holiday treat when Carol Burnett hosted Alda on her show for a December 21 episode that cast Alda as a shopping mall Santa Claus singing a duet with Carol as a flustered cashier. In this festive bit, we were watching two legendary actors at their very best, just having fun and playing off each other.
In "Nobody Does It Like Me," Alda starts off in a Santa suit, where the first thing that happens is a kid sitting in his lap chomps down on his hand.
"I’m bleeding!" Alda shouts, and soon Carol Burnett, rushing to get through a line of frantic customers, shuts down the store, apologizing as everyone but the two actors exit.
As soon as they’re alone, the song begins, and soon Carol is singing downtrodden about how nobody screws up like her.
When Alda comes in vocally, it’s in a deep baritone, and as he sings, he’s removing layers of his Santa suit, including a big white pillow that poses as Santa’s belly full of jelly. In his verse, he agrees they’ve both screwed up, asking for a bandage for his injury while crooning to Carol, "You and me, you and me, baby."
Undoubtedly Alda’s wound, which Carol soon dresses, is meant to call to mind his M*A*S*H character Hawkeye.
As the song builds, soon it’s Carol agreeing with Alda, as she sings back, "You and me, you and me, baby," and Alda joins her, both of them comically mastering the ability to have defeat dripping from their upbeat delivery.
When the song gets to the end, you can catch Carol smiling genuinely at Alda, clearly having fun in the moment, as they bicker over who is worse at life, while in reality everybody watching knows they’re the best at everything they do.
And then just when you expect the pair to shake hands and go their separate ways, the song takes an even funnier twist, positioning the two as soulmates in their sorrows.
The final verse finds them swaying, Alda’s arms around Burnett’s waist, until she accidentally grazes his wound.
Flinching, Alda pulls away, then Burnett kisses his injured hand, and he pulls the bandage off to place it instead on her ring finger.
Together, they repeat, "You and me, babe."
This, of course, wasn’t the first time audiences were seeing them together, but we have to argue it’s among the sweetest.
Earlier that year, Alda had directed Burnett in a TV movie, and in their careers, their paths had continually crossed. Burnett once told MeTV about growing up with Alda.
In 1977, Alda told the Santa Maria Times what made Burnett such a great costar.
"Carol was a joy to work with because she’s a very, very talented lady, though somewhat of a nut," Alda said.
"Alan’s a nut, too," Burnett said. "I seem to work best with people who are slightly nutty, like me."