05 November 2010

Profiles: The Ranges of Knowing Zach Galifianakis

As the star of Zach Galifianakis rises I tend to become upset. I'm upset because suddenly everyone thinks he's the new funniest guy in Hollywood. This simply isn't true - he's been the funniest guy in Hollywood for the past decade. Today, I thought we'd look at what you might think of when you hear the name "Galifianakis" and judge how well you know our newest fattest beardest comedy icon.

So if you hear the name and think of...

#1) The Hangover (2009), congratulations, you're 95% of America. The rabid success of this film made Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach household names, but the latter was the clear break-out star. It also injected anabolic steroids into all their careers, again, Zach soaking up the most benefits. This is the most basic level of knowing Galifianakis, the earnest but crazy, misguided, dangerous but strangely innocent. Blood brothers, wolf pack, not at the table, Carlos. There are tons of classic lines out of his mouth and it's a great role in an excellent film. There's a lot more to Zach than this, though.

If you think of...

#2) "Can't Tell Me Nothing," you're on the right track. In the Summer of 2008 Kanye West employed Zach in one of the greatest videos of the year (hey, Rolling Stone thought so) for "Can't Tell Me Nothing. This is brilliantly weird, disturbing, intense, passionate and hilarious. Please watch:



Zach's performances like this work because he's taking it absolutely seriously. He's showing such pain and honesty in such a ridiculous juxtaposition of genres, characters and settings that it comes off completely absurd. His natural disposition allows him to exploit this kind of contrast for humour, and it's suprisingly consistently effective. It's also surprising how effectively he's brought back the beard and engaged it into his brand. If you've already seen or heard of this, congratulations, you're in the second tier of knowing Galifianakis. The vid was pretty popular even for being the second one Kanye commissioned.

But if you're thinking of...

#3) Out Cold (2001), now you're getting into vintage Fianakis. This is an...okay little movie about a bunch of dudes trying to save their ski resort from Lee Majors. It does feature Zach predominantly in the greatest prank ever pulled on a passed out buddy:



It's a pretty fun, easily passed-over comedy that has a handful of pretty cute actresses in it. While no one saw it at all in its theatrical run, it's got a bit of a cult following on DVD and Comedy Central occasionally throws it on the air. I wouldn't be surprised if you've seen it and can recognise the chubby bearded guy.

So then if you think of...

#4) "How come girls can say, 'I'm going to go to brunch with my girlfriend', and no one assumes anything but when I say, 'My boyfriend and I are going shopping for fanny packs', everyone thinks I'm a gay?" You're thinking of his stand-up. Which is hardily renowned around these parts. He brings a deeply sardonic sense of class and pride to his self-effacing material. He plays soothing piano across most of his more random musings about life, which brilliantly breaks-up the material and offers pacing for the one-liners that works incredibly. Again, his delivery is so earnest and seriously toned, he's a constant professional. It's not even a nervous kind of stammering delivery in his seriousness, either. He's confident in lunacy. His stint at the Purple Onion here is fantastic, as is his Comedy Central Special back in 2001, which has the greatest ending to any of those Specials Ever. Watch the whole thing here, it's worth it for moments like "Just give me the rapist," and  
"Have you ever been so drunk you wet the bed? Not even sleeping, just standing over, pissing on it?"
His clothing changes as well as prop, music and song use is extremely creative as is his continual crushing delivery. The preparation and planning also seems unheard of for a Comedy Central Special. You can also note the visual and auditory inclusivity of the performance. I've heard him quoted here and there so I know others have caught this but it's definitely worth it for anyone calling themselves a Galifianafan.

Finally, and well this sucks, but if you're like me and you think of...

#5) Late World with Zach, you're deep in the shit, baby. First of all, look at the tiny IMDB page. I remember watching this during its first run during the Spring/Summer of 2002, it literally came on at 2 or 3 AM on vH1, and hell, they don't even have a page for it anymore. Oh they got La La's Full Court Wedding, but no Zach. But yeah, I actually watched this thing when it was first aired. Every moment was awesome. It was mostly similar to his stand-up, lots of musical interludes, weird interviews and some bizarre sketches that came straight from Zach's mind. It was like a normal late night talk show but one with no real filter for the personality. Just a twisted dark version of what these shows could be like. It was brilliant, ran for nine weeks and currently has no DVD or website. Thus really, it exists only on IMDB, Wikipedia and my mind. If it's in yours too, congratulations, you've made it to true Galifianakis Appreciation.

With that, enjoy Due Date (2010), which looks like another great mainstream ride for this insane, intensely focused, simultaneous straight man and goofball Fat Jesus.

Enjoy, friends.

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