Friday, December 18, 2009

Ancient Scenes of Celebrities Past

I wrote that title without intentionally intending it to be a Dickens* reference, but decided to leave it there once I noticed because I thought it sounded good. These videos that I found, with very little effort, are the results of my procrastination as I work on conference papers for the Canadian Philosophical Association meetings in Montreal this June.

I’ve liked Eric Bana ever since I saw Munich: his was the best performance in the whole film. I had seen him in Black Hawk Down, but he was just one soldier character among others in that movie. Munich was where he stood out as an actor of intense emotion. And I thought of him after that as a dramatic actor, yet to recapture the intensity of Munich, but one can’t make a film like that every year. And I thought his work in Star Trek as Nero was the best villain of the entire film franchise since Khan.

Then I found his wikipedia page and discovered several things I hadn’t known before. For one, he’s of Croatian heritage, with the full last name Banadinovic. I learned more about the Australian films he’s done, particularly his dramatic debut Chopper. And most surprisingly, I discovered that he began his career as one of the lead actor/writers on a sketch comedy show, Full Frontal, that ran for six years. I knew from Funny People that he could do comedy, but I never realized that it was where he spent such a significant portion of his career. And he’s hilarious. He does a pretty good impersonation of Arnold Swartzenegger, but I think this sketch, showcasing his most famous character on the show, Peter the most stereotypical Australian in the universe, is his best old material on youtube.

And today is the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Second City theatre in Chicago, the venue which can legitimately claim to have invented modern American comedy. The list of people who have gone through Second City is so long as to require a great deal of dedicated research which I don’t want to do. So I’ll just post this sketch from 2001 featuring Steve Carell as an unassuming man doing his laundry. Carell has really grown on me over the years, but it’s fun to see him before he had a professional stylist keeping his hair in control twenty-four hours a day.

*A minor confession to my readers: Despite my regular screeds against VicLit, I have never read any Dickens.

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