‘Matt Rogers: Have You Heard Of Christmas?’ and (insert) Mariah Carey (Credits: Showtime / Getty Images)

Have you heard of Christmas? Surely you have—it’s that holiday Mariah Carey’s always singing about!

It’s also the focal point of Matt Rogers’ brilliantly bonkers new musical comedy special, Have You Heard Of Christmas?, now streaming via Showtime. But the comedian/actor/Las Culturistas podcaster isn’t clueless: He knows that anyone who dare combine the concepts of “Christmas” and “music” is standing in the shadow of Carey, who all but owns the holiday thanks to a certain record-breaking hit.

That’s why the pop star’s presence looms large over Rogers’ special, with the comedian decking out the halls just to be mentioned in the same breath as her, and maybe (just maybe) being deemed “The Prince Of Christmas.” He even performs a “lost track” of Carey’s—a sultry number for The Grinch‘s Martha May Whovier, by way of the diva’s early-2000s R&B sound. You’ve just gotta see it to believe it; it’s a showstopper.

What’s clear from watching Have You Heard Of Christmas?—beyond Rogers’ sparkling talent—is that the man really is a devoted fan of Mariah Carey’s, a.k.a. a “Lamb” (as she calls her fans). With that in mind, Queerty dialed up Rogers to get to the bottom of what makes him such a stan, defend Carey’s honor as the “Queen Of Christmas,” and learn all about his surprising Lamb origin story.

QUEERTY: Hi Matt! A happy Mariah Carey season to you—how are you?

MATT: I’m great! It’s good to see you!

Since I’ve known you, I’ve always understood you to be a Mariah Carey stan, first and foremost—

Yeah, chiefly, I’m Coordinating Officer of the Lambily.

Right! And, naturally, her presence looms large over your new special. So I’m curious to hear: What’s your Lamb origin story? When and how did you first become a fan of Mariah’s?

When I was around seven years old, I became obsessed—like the rest of the world—with Titanic. And so the first big pop star I ever really stanned was Celine Dion. And my parents did not allow me to watch MTV at the time because it was “too sexy.” So I was very immersed in the VH1 one of it all, a channel on which Celine Dion was kind of queen. “My Heart Will Go On” loomed very large.

Related: Mariah Carey recalls “extremely uncomfortable” Ellen interview that lacked “empathy”

I was at the point where “Stan Twitter” is now, where they sort of attack other fandoms, so I felt like that—at seven years old—towards Mariah Carey. When I first saw her and heard her voice, I felt threatened by her as a Celine fan. But my mom—literally, an ally and icon—was like, “You should give Mariah a chance! She’s really good.”

So I started to really listen to Mariah and I was like, “I think she might have a point, my mother.” And then she released her Butterfly album, and I was a goner. I just forgot anyone else’s name, and absolutely fell in love. And what’s funny is that the Butterfly album was definitely a time where she discovered her sensuality and sexuality—it was new musical terrain for her. And, in many ways, it was revolutionary for me as a little kid, because I discovered that I loved R&B music.

I also loved the way she wrote songs, the weird vocabulary she used. I think I was only seven or eight years old using the word “nonchalantly.” [Laughs.] She had this insane vocabulary that I really looked up to. So I just latched on to her and everything about her ever since. She even became my first concert—the “Rainbow” tour at Madison Square Garden.

And, correct me if I’m wrong, but you have a very vivid memory of buying her Glitter album, right? On the day it was released, which was…

[Laughs.] So, the Glitter album came out on September 11, 2001. My mom came to get me from school, and I thought she was getting me early because she was taking me to the record store to buy Glitter—I quickly found out that was not the case. [My mom] said “Matthew, I don’t think you understand what’s happening.” So we pulled up to this record store on Long Island, where the employees were clearly traumatized, and my mom was like, “Please, just give him the album; I know we’re experiencing a national tragedy, but please.”

So, I did get the album, and I’m sure that entertained me in the coming weeks, which were absolute hell for our country. And that, I think, is the only way I can really state my fandom for Mariah. Like, it stood in the face of everything else. [Laughs.] And, honestly, through good times and bad, I have always loved her.

I wanted to ask about that—because, I think it’s fair to say the broader cultural attitude toward Mariah has had its ups and downs over the years. In that sense, has it, at times, been difficult to remain such a staunch supporter?

If I ever feel like I need to defend Mariah Carey, or my stan-dom of her, I just remember, “Oh, wait, I’m talking about arguably the greatest singer-songwriter of all time!” I have nothing to defend at all. The taste absolutely jumped out when I started stanning her at seven, eight years old—just like it did again at 12, when I started stanning Kelly Clarkson. [Laughs.] You’ll notice that everyone I stan sort of stands the test of time—well, besides Ashlee Simpson. Maybe I was a little off there…

But, when it comes to Kelly and Mariah—there comes a time in every young gay person’s life where they start stanning. And I picked well!

 

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A post shared by Matt Rogers (@mattrogerstho)

So, now is the time where I ask you the impossible question: What is your personal #1 Mariah song? Or, maybe you already have a ranking locked and loaded?

Sure, let’s put together five. Let’s say “Fantasy,” for sure. “Heartbreaker.” I’m actually going to go a little bit off the beaten path here: “Whenever You Call” from Butterfly, and I’m going to add “My All” from Butterfly. And I’m going to say—hm… See, Butterfly was huge album for me, but it’s so hard. “Honey,” “The Roof” was so major, “We Belong Together.” I also love “Stay The Night” from The Emancipation Of Mimi.

I mean, there are some newer songs that really did not get the credit. Like, “Obsessed” is a monster. Those verses? “You’re a mom and pop / I’m a corporation. I’m the press conference / You a conversation.” You better write a song! Are you kidding me? She’s so funny.

I just named so many—I could put together my own Greatest Hits.

Recently, the news broke that Mariah was denied the trademark for “Queen Of Christmas,” and so I just wanted to give you some space to work out your feelings on that.

I mean, it’s just another way the American government is failing us, you know what I mean? Like, what do I have to say? I don’t expect anything from our higher branches of government anymore if that’s where this had to go. I don’t exactly know who to—I guess the courts? We can blame the courts. [Laughs.] All I know is where’s Kamala on this? Where is Joe Biden?

Related: The ultimate queer Christmas video playlist for a gay ol’ holiday at home

Let’s say you, personally, are the one taking this to “the courts” then—I want to hear, in your words, how do you make the case that Mariah deserves to be the “Queen Of Christmas”?

First of all,  I don’t know if you watched the Thanksgiving day parade, but she got more air time than Santa. Literally! In fact, we were watching at home, and my dad was like, “Did they even show Santa?” [Laughs.] I think maybe Mariah and her parasol went over [time.] Mariah was the main event!

I’m sorry, they’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Santa? He’s old! Old news. I just think Mariah is now occupying the space of “Christmas character” and Christmas culture in a way that’s undeniable. I mean, if you had to say who was the “top female of Christmas,” I don’t even know that you’d say Mrs. Claus. You’d say Mariah Carey.

Right. I mean, people can’t even agree on what Mrs. Claus looks like—

And I talk about that in my special! So, people should stream December 2—that’s all I’m saying. [Laughs.]

Speaking of Have You Heard Of Christmas?, Mariah really is this unseen “character” throughout the special. Her name is invoked many times. Not to get too hypothetical, but do you have a plan of action for if/when Mariah sees it? I just want to make sure you’re prepared for anything!

You know, it’s sort of out of my hands at this point. She’s pretty much the narrative focus of this comedy special airing on Showtime. So, if she doesn’t hear about it now, then she may never hear about it. And I should just continue on with my life, knowing that she may never deign to acknowledge me.

But that would be fine! Like, I can’t think of any higher honor than Mariah being told that I exist, and her saying she doesn’t care. I mean, for her to “I don’t know her” me??? That would be absolutely amazing. All I want for Christmas is that.

[NOTE: Days after this interview was conducted, Rogers appeared on an episode of Peloton’s LOL Cody series with Cody Rigsby, in which Carey also made a surprise appearance. We can confirm she touched Rogers’ hand—though we still not sure if she knows about Have You Heard of Christmas?]

 

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A post shared by Matt Rogers (@mattrogerstho)

Oh, I want that for you, I really do. But, regardless of Mariah, you’ve said on your podcast, Las Culturistas, this special feels like a really complete artistic statement on who you are. With that in mind, what does it mean for you to share it with the world now?

It means a lot to me as a comedian, obviously—it’s my first special! But also—and not to sound like this—it does mean a lot to me as an artist. It encapsulates everything I’ve tried to do while I was coming up in New York. It’s got sketch, it’s got character performance, it’s got stand-up, it’s got music, it’s got so many people that I have looked up to and collaborated with. I really wanted it to feel like a love letter to my time in New York and my time developing as a comedian.

So I hope that, in many ways, it opens people up to who I am, and shows them what I can do, and what I’m all about. I really don’t know if I could distill myself more as a performer than this.

Related: Matt Rogers subverts the gay assistant trope in ‘I Love That For You’

Yes, right on down to the Mariah Carey obsession! It’s all there.

Absolutely. I mean, that’s such a big part who I am as a comedic voice. That’s why Las Culturistas is such a big part of who I am, because I love to tell people about what I love, sharing in that joy. And so it feels right to me that it’s Christmas, it’s Mariah, it’s all these references. I was able to put all of myself out there, and so I’m very grateful.

As a final note—now that we’ve decided here, once and for all, Mariah Carey is the Queen of Christmas—what holiday should she conquer next?

Well, she has a song called “Fourth Of July,” which is on the Butterfly album. [Sings a verse.] It’s so good. Maybe that’s a hint! She’s given us a winter moment, so maybe next is a summer moment. Maybe I should do a summer moment! Well, Fire Island sort of was mine. So maybe I have to attack fall and spring next year before anyone else can!

Matt Rogers: Have You Heard Of Christmas? is now streaming via Showtime.

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