Monday, May 21, 2012

Hey, it's...Richard Masur!

Hands down, the best comedy on TV right now is HBO's Girls.  While it has received some (possibly deserved) flack for a lack of diversity given its urban milieu, it is nonetheless hilarious, poignant, and anchored by some wonderful natural performances.  Perhaps most impressive is the fact that 26-year-old creator-star Lena Dunham has written every episode.  I love that the show, like Louis CK's Louie, has a single unique point of view that does not attempt to cater to the lowest common denominator.  Dunham tells the stories she wants to tell and if that takes her to some strange places, like the scene in the latest episode where her character finds some inner strength while talking to her pseudo-boyfriend (breakout star Adam Driver) while he's furiously masturbating, then so be it.  Given her success, I hope other networks take chances on young comedians with ideas that can be shot for very little money.

Of course, the other reason I love Girls is the way it fills in the margins with great character actors like Peter Scolari and Becky Ann Baker as Hannah's parents, James LeGros as the father of the girls Jemima Kirke's Jessa babysits, and my favorite, Richard Masur as Hannah's "touchy-feely" boss.  You know Richard Masur even if you don't know his name.  Maybe you know him from this iconic scene from Risky Business:


Or maybe you know him as the first human victim of the thing in 1982's The Thing.  Or how about as Ed Lawson in Picket Fences, the mayor of Rome, Wisconsin (after the one who spontaneously combusted, the porn star, and the one with Alzheimer's, and before the bank-robbing Marlee Matlin).  He was the mayor whose wife murdered him with a frying pan, stuffed him in a freezer and cut off his head. Or there's his role as Vada Sultenfuss's uncle in My Life and My Life 2.

He probably would be ashamed to think that I remember him best as the dad in Disney's made-for-TV horror/comedy Mr. Boogedy and its sequel Bride of Boogedy.  Yet, he has a special quality -- like all good character actors -- that brings class to bad movies (see The Believers or Stephen King's It) and makes good movies better.  He is familiar and welcoming.  I think it's his soft features and especially his soothing voice.  He speaks naturally with a laid back purr that draws you in, making him well-suited for sitcoms (where he got his start in the 70s) and for best friend and relative roles.

I saw Richard Masur on the train recently coming back from Manhattan and I thought about telling him how much I loved him in Mr. Boogedy.  But I let the moment pass...maybe it's for the best to leave character actors in the background where they shine brightest.


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