Wednesday, January 9, 2008

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Your cultural question of the winter

As the writer's strike continues to not end, let's consider a key cultural question that's been nagging me in recent weeks.

I don't care for Alec Baldwin's politics, and I suspect he's not really a terribly nice person. That said, the man can chew through scenery with the best of them, and he's the best thing on the best comedy on television, 30 Rock.

So, here's your question: which is the signature Alec Baldwin performance? The gold standard, of course, is his very not-safe-for-work monologue in Glengarry Glen Ross:

However, maybe, just maybe, Baldwin's psychiatric role-playing tour-de-force in an October episode of 30 Rock tops his previous acting apex. Watch for yourself and help me decide:

posted by Dan on 01.09.08 at 02:10 PM


I am glad to see that I can agree with you on such an important point. That particular scene from 30 Rock, which has become my favorite comedy, had me laughing hard enough that my wife hit me to try to prevent my waking the children. While I am convinced that Alec Baldwin is probably not that pleasant of a person, he is a tremendous comedic actor (The SNL Schweddy Balls skit remains my favorite sketch from that show).

posted by: Eric on 01.09.08 at 02:10 PM [permalink]

I'm sorry, Baldwin deserves his props, but Tracy Morgan > Alec Badwin.

posted by: Arr-squared on 01.09.08 at 02:10 PM [permalink]

A dark horse contender for signature Alec Baldwin scene would be his work in the simultaneously under- and over-rated _Elizabethtown_ .

posted by: Dave on 01.09.08 at 02:10 PM [permalink]

I suspect he's not really a terribly nice person.

In 1989 I coordinated a celebration of Human Rights Day in NYC for the local Amnesty International groups. It was hosted by Peter Weller, featured music by Adam Makowicz, who himself fled Poland to play the music he wanted to play, and featured former prisoners of conscience from South Korea and the Philippines.

Alec Baldwin came in as a last minute addition, flying from Miami where he was shooting Miami Blues and did a stellar job. At the reception afterwards he came over to me and thanked me for the opportunity to participate, saying that he believed in the organization and its mission.

I never forgot that. He was classy all the way in my experience.

posted by: Randy Paul on 01.09.08 at 02:10 PM [permalink]

The opening sentence of your entry should be the real focus of our attention. It is no coincidence that the writer's strike is dragging out and the market is down over 10% from its high. I knew that this would destroy the economy. Sub-prime mortgage crisis? Bah. Writer's strike? Now we're doomed. The ripples from this asteroid-strike equivalent upon our economy will be felt for decades. Deep-in-the-money put options are the only hope. Why aren't the Presidential candidates talking about this?!

posted by: Saint in Exile on 01.09.08 at 02:10 PM [permalink]

His Schweddy Balls on SNL may be his best work, although he did steal a few scenes in "The Departed". The scene at the golf range with Damon was very good, as well as the scene where he and others were watching Nicholson and the Asians making a deal in the abandoned warehouse.

Now I need to look for Schweddy Balls on YouTube...

posted by: Doug on 01.09.08 at 02:10 PM [permalink]

I find the man to be pretty offensive. That said, it's hard not to really respect him every time I watch Schweddy Balls. I can't *watch* it without breaking up - I have no idea how he did it. And Canteen Boy still kills me years later.

His turn on 30 Rock has been so impressive. The scene posted is great, but I thought the episodes with Will Arnett (Ahhh.....Arrested Development) were every bit as good.

posted by: spider01 on 01.09.08 at 02:10 PM [permalink]

I've never met the man myself, but my brother ended up spending a lot of time with him at a film festival recently and said he's one of the most normal, funny, and pleasant people he's met in the industry. He's apparently very self-deprecating and quite nice and generous to staff at the festivals, including "underlings" who he could have no real ulterior motive for treating well. And man, does he kick ass on 30 Rock. He gets great lines, but the delivery makes them perfect.

posted by: Wugong on 01.09.08 at 02:10 PM [permalink]


My experience as well.

posted by: Randy Paul on 01.09.08 at 02:10 PM [permalink]

The use of the word chiffarobe makes this scene classic. Never did I ever think a piece of furniture that is is important in "To Kill A Mockingbird" would be used as comedy gold. Perfection!

posted by: James on 01.09.08 at 02:10 PM [permalink]

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