Hamil with Care

Five Questions for Sugar Plum Gary

Sugar Plum Gary is a Christmas-themed character who’s just as funny in August as he is in December. Most holiday-themed shows use familiar trappings as a vehicle for their own particular aesthetic—nostalgic, campy, iconoclastic, topical—but Sugar Plum Gary douses the whole Christmas conceit in nightmares and absurdity until it’s almost unrecognizable. He’s an obsession in the flesh, and his mania transcends the merely seasonal.

This shambling man is the creation of comedian Emmett Montgomery, who describes the character’s vision of yuletide as “more Lovecraft than Dickens.” Gary describes himself as a “Santanist” and wears red footie pajamas. The specter of Santa Claus, conceived as a sort of bloodthirsty Elder God, strikes him with fear and devotion. He’s an enchanted man drawn to the object of his terror like an Old Testament prophet or Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now. All he ever talks or thinks about is Christmas. Everything in the universe warps to fit his savage Christmas cosmology. He’s equal parts wholesome and alarming, a Rankin/Bass castoff come to life. 

Every Friday and Saturday night leading up to the big day, Montgomery will appear as Sugar Plum Gary at 18th & Union, the performance space in the former home of New City Theatre. Gary will answer Christmas questions from the audience and unspool his wild belief system over the course of an hour-long show.

In the midst of his holiday residency, we asked Gary five questions via webcam.

See Sugar Plum Gary at 18th & Union Dec. 16, 17, 23 and 24. More info here.