Thursday, March 25, 2010

Comedy Half-Lives

Unlike dramatic actors who seem to get better with age, the careers of comedic actors have notoriously steep arcs. They rise through the comedy ranks (SNL), strike gold with a low-brow box-office smash (See: Dumb and Dumber, Trading Places, The Jerk), coast on this creative energy, and before you know it, are making Cheaper By The Dozen 2 and Norbit. Sometimes their careers are revitalized by a dramatic role (See: Punchdrunk Love, The Truman Show, Good Will Hunting), but their comedy is never the same. It's like some 'funny' switch they can't reach gets caught on someones sleeve and turned off forever. The funnier they are, the further they fall. Chevy Chase should not be playing the voice of Cho-Cho in The Karate Dog. He made Fletch for chrissake!  So many brilliant comedians have fallen victim to this trajectory that I was beginning to think that it was a simple inevitability. It's just unconscionable. That is, until Bill Murray.

Bill Murray is the beacon of light in the ghost town of washed up comedians. He is the ultimate acting chameleon, bringing his subtle wit and reserved sarcasm to every role he plays, regardless of its tenor. He is so memorable in his roles that it is virtually impossible to envision anyone else playing Peter Venkman or Mr. Blume. He is so beloved, that even urban legends regarding him are hilarious (and usually true). Yes, he accosts people and tells them, 'no one will ever believe you'. Yes, he crashes random NYC house parties. And just this week, the following footage turned up from last weeks SXSW Festival in Austin, TX.

Yes, that is Bill Murray bartending. Sure he made Garfield (and the sequel), but at least he owned up to it in Zombieland. I'm sure Eddie Murphy still stands by Meet Dave as misunderstood societal critique. Bill Murray gives hope to the Andy Sambergs and the Michael Ceras. You don't necessarily have to 'evolve' to stay alive in Hollywood, as long as you exercise a little restraint and keep a competent agent on your payroll. Also, It helps to be funny to begin with (I'm talking to you Dane Cook).

1 comment:

  1. Yet another reason why Austin and Bill M are cool.