In a sketch that’s already earned its lofty cult comedy status, Netflix’s “I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson” puts on a lavish, televised, and very intense baby beauty pageant. As the crowd shouts death threats at toddler dressed in biker gear and judges are outed for accepting sexual favors from contestants’ parents, Sam Richardson presides over the magical chaos in a sparkling silver tuxedo — the prototypical pageant host of The 112th Annual Baby of the Year Competition.
He hits all the notes in the opening song, crooning “Look at their rolls, look at their folds!” before hitting the high chords in “Which ones can d aaaance?” He embodies the audience by rolling his eyes when a judge interrupts the competition for a personal statement. He supports the babies, withstands the bedlam, and hits just the right tone for a sketch that’s purposefully all over the map.
Granted, this is a bit. Richardson isn’t on live television; he’s playing a character. But does he fit that character to a “t” — and he did yet again when accompanying Conan O’Brien on a trip to Ghana in the late-night host’s latest international special that aired Thursday night on TBS, “Conan in Ghana.”
The expedition marked a coming home for Richardson. His mother is Ghanaian, and he grew up making regular trips to the West African nation to see family. O’Brien was invited as part of The Year of the Return, a yearlong commemoration designating the 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived in Jamestown, Virginia. The country’s marketing campaign has targeted African Americans and diaspora in order to help those returning reconnect with their roots, ancestry, and culture.
Near the end of the hourlong special, Richardson gets choked up talking to a local woman about the efforts, noting how it’s especially healing and rewarding for anyone who can visit Ghana and see records of their relatives who lived there, but it’s much more difficult for those people who had such ties ripped away from them. It’s a human moment in a heartfelt and humorous episode, and one that feels earned by Richardson’s genuine interest and envelopment in the locals and their customs.
That’s no easy connection to make with an audience, especially in such a small window of time. Richardson is probably only featured in about half the runtime of the 43-minute special, but his impact carries through. He may be introduced as Conan’s guest, but he acts like a host to the viewer and even O’Brien.
Sam Richardson and Conan O’Brien in “Conan in Ghana”
And a good one at that. Richardson’s sincerity is moving in those final, more serious moments, but he’s excited to engage with every stop along O’Brien’s tour. When they stop in a market for some impromptu shopping, Conan starts in on a bit as the spokesperson for a chocolate candy called Perk Choco. Picking up on his partner’s pale complexion, Richardson makes a good-natured offering to swap sponsorship roles — Richardson will take Perk Choco, O’Brien can be Perk Milk. The two imrov comics run with it from there, but it’s Richardson’s smooth addition and supportive demeanor that keeps the quick bit clicking.
These little moments just keep building over the entire episode. Richardson gets accosted by an extremely enthusiastic dance partner, and he just goes with it. Quick quips while the two help out on a local cooking show build an easy three-way repartee. Interviews are smooth, and he’s never absent — just supportive, letting O’Brien do his thing while building off it like a good scene partner always does.
A lot of these attributes can be attributed to Richardson’s experience. His Second City training helps him stay quick on his feet in just about any situation. Many of the characters he’s known for — whether it’s Richard Splett on “Veep” or Sam Duvet in “Detroiters” — are incredibly nice guys who are often defined by how good they are and how good they make others feel. But all of those feelings are what makes for a good host. You’ve got to be funny, night in, night out, no matter the material. You’ve got to be welcoming, but more than that, you have to give off an aura that makes people feel good just because you’re around. You’ve got to build interesting conversations with anyone, and you have to be willing to put yourself out there for wacky, weird bits.
O’Brien can do it all and then some. It’s why he’s been an elite late-night host for decades now, and it’s certainly why he’s still finding new ways to connect with audiences. One wonders if Richardson could do the same. For an actor who’s looking to push himself into new territory, it would be a treat to see him host a special, a talk show, an awards ceremony or just about anything where he can don that sparkling tuxedo. Get this man a hosting gig — he’s ready for the real thing.
Following his being “cut” by Disney for old, now-deleted tweets, James Gunn became a free agent, and the nice thing about free agency is that the free agent stands to earn a lot of money. That's what happened with the Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 writer/director when he jumped from Disney to Warner Bros. to make The Suicide Squad before going back to Disney and Marvel Studios for Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3. Replying to a fan's question on Instagram about why he agreed to make the semi-sequel to 2016's disastrous Suicide Squad, Gunn wrote, “I was basically offered whatever I wanted. I most wanted to do Squad.” His answer suggests two things: 1 Gunn had his pick of Warner Bros. properties, and 2 he's making bank. If I was able to do whatever I wanted, I would make a movie without Jared Leto's Joker, too.
Anyway, Gunn was also asked about his most challenging filmmaking experience.
“They're all challenging,” he wrote. “ Super was physically brutal — so much movie and so little time to shoot it. [ Guardians] was scary because I didn't know if people would get the vibe. [ Vol. 2] was the hardest because of my mental state. [ The Suicide Squad] is the most complex and biggest but also the most fun so far. So I guess overall Vol. 2.”
With “The Suicide Squad” now in production, writer-director James Gunn has become the rare filmmaker to direct comic book movies in both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe. Gunn’s deal to direct “The Suicide Squad” famously closed after he was fired by Disney from “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” for controversial jokes made on social media over a decade ago. Gunn recently revealed on Instagram via The Playlist that “The Suicide Squad” took shape because Warner Bros.’ offer to join the studio was as open ended as possible.
Replying to a fan question about Warner Bros.’ offer, Gunn said, “I was basically offered whatever I wanted. I most wanted to do 'Squad.'” That Warner Bros. gave Gunn free reign to choose a film project is a testament to how eager the studio was to court the writer-director once his relationship with Disney fizzled out. Disney severed ties with Gunn prior to production on “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” beginning. Gunn had already written the script.
Disney’s firing of Gunn led to a storm of backlash from the industry, most notably from Gunn’s own “Guardians” cast members Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, and Dave Bautista, among others. Gunn had previously apologized for his insensitive jokes several years ago. Gunn’s firing prompted speculation about which director would take over the “Guardians” franchise. Disney severed ties with Gunn on July 20, 2018. Come March 2019, Disney had announced it was reinstating Gunn as “Guardians Vol. 3” director.
“That first day, I'm going to say it was the most intense of my entire life,” Gunn told Deadline earlier this year about being fired. “There have been other difficult days in my life, from the time I got sober when I was younger, to the death of friends who committed suicide. But this was incredibly intense. It happened, and suddenly it seemed like everything was gone. I just knew, in a moment that happened incredibly quickly, I had been fired. It felt as if my career was over.”
Part of Gunn’s new deal to direct “Guardians Vol. 3” is that he would be able to finish production on Warner Bros.’ “The Suicide Squad” first. That movie is now in production and already has an August 6, 2021 release date.
Garcelle Beauvais Spider Man: Homecoming is set for a recurring role opposite Dennis Quaid on Netflix’s multi-camera comedy series Merry Happy Whatever, from former Everybody Loves Raymond executive producer Tucker Cawley, Aaron Kaplan's Kapital Entertainment and Wendi Trilling's TrillTV. In Merry Happy Whatever, written by Cawley and directed by Pam Fryman, Quaid plays Don Quinn, a strong-willed patriarch who must balance the demands of his complicated family with the stress of the Christmas season when his youngest daughter comes home for the holidays with a new boyfriend. Beauvais plays Nancy, a warm and good-humored no-nonsense nurse who treats Don Quaid and Matt Brent Morin when they arrive at urgent care. It seems Don may have a crush on Nancy though he denies it vehemently. Beauvais can recently be seen in recurring roles on Starz’s Power, NBC’s Chicago Med and E!’s The Arrangement. She’s repped by Innovative Artists, Gilbertson Entertainment and attorney Mark A. Johnson.
Chrissie Fit Pitch Perfect franchise has booked a recurring role in Comedy Central’s Awkwafina opposite the Crazy Rich Asians star, from Rory Scovel and Gary Sanchez Productions. Written by Awkwafina, Karey Dornetto SMILF and Teresa Hsiao Family Guy and directed by Lucia Aniello Broad City, Awkwafina stars as Nora, a twenty-something living in Queens, striving for a larger than life existence while living with her father and grandmother. Fit will play Melanie, an old high school friend of Nora's Awkwafina who after a lot of early success has fallen on some hard times. The two friends reconnect after Nora runs into Melanie braiding hair on the Atlantic City boardwalk. Fit is best known for her roles in the Pitch Perfect and Teen Beach franchises. Fit also can be seen in guest roles on I’m Sorry and Charmed. Fit is repped by Haven Entertainment and Abrams Artists Agency.
Game of Thrones has a problem. The show is now one episode — 80 minutes, give or take — away from its conclusion and things are kind of a mess. Cersei is dead. The Night King is dead. Two of the three dragons are dead. King’s Landing is a pile of ash and charred bodies. Fans are upset about all of it. Some fans are really upset. And now the show has almost backed itself into a corner where either Dany gets to continue her freshly-started reign of terror or Jon and/or Arya has to kill her to prevent it from happening. People are going to be mad either way. That’s why the show should just make the final episode about Tormund and the dog instead.
All of it. All 80 minutes. Just Tormund and Ghost, the direwolf Jon gave up without so much as a belly rub or a little ear scratchy, roaming the North, going on little adventures, like a version of Turner & Hooch where Tom Hanks is a flame-haired ogre who suckled at the teat of a giant whose husband he killed and Hooch is a snow white fictional wolf. What kind of adventures? I’m glad you asked. Options include:
Fishing Ghost steals Tormund’s jacket and won’t give it back Tormund keeps calling Ghost “a dog” — hence the title of this post — and Ghost growls at him each time The two of them solve a murder mystery A big mean bear corners one of them and the other saves the day Guess what, Ghost can talk now Maybe Davos shows up Brienne can come, too Tormund tries to housebreak Ghost and hilarity ensues Cortez and his crew have a big heroin shipment coming into the docks but the chief has already taken Tormund and Ghost off the case so they have to go in and thwart him with no backup
And so on. Or none of that. Maybe they just traipse around in the snow and become pals. I don’t know. I’m just throwing some stuff against a wall here. All I do know is that it would be pretty funny if the series finale of the biggest show in the world was just about a goofy giant and his new canine best friend. And why shouldn’t it be? You’re telling me there’s a better plan in place? Sure, maybe there’s “a plan” that “ties together a number of themes from previous seasons” and “provides some level of closure,” but who wants any of that? Not me! More of this, please.