Adam Sandler wrote this novelty song with Saturday Night Live writers Lewis Morton and Ian Maxtone-Graham. He first performed it on the show's Weekend Update segment on December 3, 1994. The song details how Jewish kids feel left out during the Christmas season, and he rattles off a list of celebrities who are full Jews, part Jews, converted Jews and not Jews at all (O.J. Simpson).
After incorporating it into his stand-up routine, he included the song on his 1996 comedy album, What the Hell Happened to Me? Since then, he has written two follow-ups to the song, each with a new list of celebs.
Celebrities referenced in Part I (in order of appearance): David Lee Roth, James Caan, Kirk Douglas, Dinah Shore, Bowzer (John Bauman) from Sha Na Na, Arthur Fonzarelli (Henry Winkler), Paul Newman, Goldie Hawn, Captain Kirk (William Shatner), Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy), the owner of the Seattle Supersonics (Barry Ackerley), O.J. Simpson, Rod Carew, Ann Landers, Dear Abby (Pauline Phillips), Harrison Ford, Ebenezer Scrooge, The Three Stooges, and Tom Cruise.
Celebrities referenced in Part II (from the album Stan & Judy's Kid): Winona Ryder, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, the girls from Veruca Salt (Nina Gordon and Louise Post), The Beastie Boys, Lenny Kravitz, Courtney Love, Harvey Keitel, Jennifer Beals, Yasmine Bleeth, Dustin Hoffman, O.J. Simpson, the guy who does the voice for Scooby Doo (Don Messick), Bob Dylan, Mary Tyler Moore's husband (Dr. Robert Levine), Tiger Woods, Happy Gilmore, and Bruce Springsteen.
Celebrities referenced in Part III (from the Eight Crazy Nights soundtrack): Ross (David Schwimmer), Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), Lenny's pal Squiggy (David L. Lander), Debra Messing, Melissa Gilbert, Michael Landon, Jerry Lewis, Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Tom Arnold, Deuce Bigelow (Rob Schneider), Willie Nelson's harmonica player (Mickey Raphael), Osama bin Laden, Sarah Hughes, Harry Houdini, David Blaine, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Connelly, Lou Reed, Perry Farrell, Beck, Paula Abdul, Joey Ramone, and Natalie Portman.
During live performances of Part I, Sandler would often alter the line "Drink your gin and tonic-ah, but don't smoke marijuan-icah" from the final verse to "Drink your gin and tonic-ah, and smoke your marijuan-icah," which is included on the uncut album version. While some radio edits completely cut both versions of the line, the uncut version surprisingly gets the most radio airplay.
This song was released as a single in 1995, making #10 US. It became a seasonal favorite, fitting in well on Christmas playlists as a quirky alternative. The song charted again in each of the next three years, reaching these positions:
During this run, Sandler had some of his most popular movies in theaters: Billy Madison (1995), Happy Gilmore (1996) and The Wedding Singer (1998).
Neil Diamond covered this
for his 2009 album, A Cherry Cherry Christmas
, with some altered lyrics. Instead of "Tom Cruise isn't Jewish, but his agent is," Diamond sings, "Tom Cruise isn't Jewish, but Jesus Christ is."
Steve Carell spoofed this on The Office when he sang "The Diwali Song" during a Hindu Dwali festival, an annual autumn celebration, in the season three episode "Diwali."