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The Straight Man

In person, Sudeikis gives off the air of a goodnatured bro like the cool slacker honors student, maybe, or the frat dude who also likes Arcade Fire. He loves Tater Tots and Buffalo wings and cheap draft beer. And dressed in his rumpled Foo Fighters Tshirt, he looks about as unfamous as you can be while still having hung out with the band. (He says that when he does get recognized, it often mistakenly as The Hangover Ed Helms.) He uses exclamations like “Well, gosh!” without irony and says that if he hadn made it in show business, “I probably be back in Kansas, coaching basketball and teaching drama.”

Growing up in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park, Sudeikis never dreamed of being a TV star. He liked comedy well enough Beverly Hills Cop, Amigos! but he wasn a nerd about it, and he wasn really even that into SNL. To hear him tell it, he wasn even the funniest member of the Sudeikis family. That would be his father, Dan, then a corporate headhunter and inveterate jokester,jeremy scott for sale. “He really quick,” Sudeikis says. “One time he met Joe Biden at a campaign event, and he said, gotta tell ya, Senator you do the best impression of my son I ever seen. His mother, meanwhile, is famous in her own right, as a member of the American Society of Travel Agents Travel Hall of Fame. “When someone comes up to me when I back home,” says Sudeikis, “there no way in hell I assume it because of something I done. It usually more like, Dan and Kathy son, right? he was young, Sudeikis big thing was basketball. He was a Bulls fan because Chicago was nearby and Jordan was Jordan, but he loved the Lakers even more because they had Magic and “Showtime.” Sudeikis was a point guard too, and copied Magic showboating style a lot of behindtheback passes and trash talk, the opposite of his teamplayer approach onstage. Then again, he also led his team in assists. Jayhawks, even as a walkon, but he figured he could maybe play Division II ball somewhere. Then one day in high school he happened upon a meeting of the speech and debate club and saw them playing improv games. He was immediately hooked and asked where he could sign up. The Shawnee Mission West forensics team had been state champs for 10 of the previous 11 years, and Sudeikis quickly got a crash course in some of the things that would one day make him famous, like improv acting and comedic scriptwriting. A jock till the end, he liked the competitive aspect of forensics and the fact that you could letter in it. His senior year, he spent hours transcribing the famous courtroom scene from A Few Good Men. When he and a friend performed it at the state championships that year, their team took first.

After graduation, Sudeikis enrolled at a nearby community college on a basketball scholarship. But on weekends he make the 90minute drive back to Kansas City to take improv classes at a place called ComedySportz. “I started getting more of a thrill from improv when I failed than from basketball when I played well,” he says. “And if that not an indicator, I don know what is.” When his basketball coach redshirted him for bad grades two years later, he left school, moved back in with his parents, and organized an improv night at a local coffee shop,jeremy scott wings shoes. In 1997, he moved to Chicago and began performing at the famed improv school Second City, the SNL breeding ground where John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd, and Bill Murray all got their start, and then on to Las Vegas, where he had a job helping found Second City new satellite show.

Sudeikis was supposed to stay in Vegas for six months, just long enough to get the show off the ground. He wound up staying almost three years. He loved it out there: He lived near the corner of Flamingo and Koval, where Tupac was shot, and dated Kay Cannon, a fellow cast member who later become his wife. He also got really into the Blue Man Group, and started practicing drumming nonstop in the hope that he might join the cast. In fact, he went so far as to shave his head, which, he recalls, laughing, even his friends who were in the show didn do. “I was just enamored with it,” he says. He celebrated with beers at Heartland Brewery and hitting golf balls at a driving range.

On SNL, Sudeikis specializes in playing the straight man, an earnest, sometimes befuddled foil to the zany antics of Fred Armisen or Kristen Wiig. “It always been my favorite kind of character,” he says. “A straight man, written correctly, allows for just as many laughs as the clown.” His favorite sketches are the ones in which he basically gets to be Jason Sudeikis, reacting to the insanity that going on around him. He says his trick is to kind of put himself in the audience shoes, to look around the stage like, “What going on here? Do you see what these people are doing?!” He says, “The whole goal is to make it look easy.”

Although his characters both on the show and in movies have a tendency to be horndogs or buffoons, there usually an underlying Midwestern goodness that keeps them grounded and relatable. The Ahole character he plays opposite Wiig is, at heart, a clueless dolt who loves his wife; even his devil is a dude you like to have a beer with.

Still, that doesn mean Sudeikis can go a little dark,jeremy scott. The sketch he proudest of is one you probably never seen. It aired only once, in 2009, and it isn widely available online because of licensing fees.

“I had just gone through a really bad breakup,” he explains, “to the point that even delivering 10 dozen roses or riding up on a white horse and getting Axl Rose and Slash to sing on her doorstep would not have worked.” He recently seen Say Anything, and he found himself identifying with “a heartfelt romantic who going after the wrong girl,” as well as feeling “really cynical about the grand gesture. I thought, fucking kid is gonna take a boombox out and just push play, and that gonna win her back? he laughs. “I don think so.”

So Sudeikis cooked up a sketch in which he got to play “the angry version of myself.” It opens with that week host, Joseph GordonLevitt, standing in his girlfriend front yard in a trench coat, blasting Peter Gabriel “In Your Eyes” to win her back. Then up walks Sudeikis, the curious nextdoor neighbor, taking out his recycling. “Hey, man, why are you pointing that boombox at my neighbor house?” he asks, and when GordonLevitt as Dobler fills him in, Sudeikis proceeds to ruthlessly and hilariously dismantle the whole scene, and a generation swoon moment along with it.

“I don think the sketch went horribly well,” Sudeikis says now. “Nobody talks about it, and you don get to see it because of the Peter Gabriel song. But it was right at the heart of a lot of personal stuff. That when pain gets channeled into this thing. That was an example of me having something to say.”
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