Man of the Year:
Every year, usually as I sit by the Christmas tree with a cup of rum-spiked eggnog in hand, I reflect on the past year’s events. About three hours later, after I’ve drunk myself into a despondent stupor, I switch gears and start thinking about my Man of the Year pick. Who stood out this year, without resorting to drunken arrests or scandalous affairs? Who made 2006 a little funnier, but intentionally? Who achieved fame, without having to date Paris Hilton? After half of Hollywood was eliminated, the answer was clear.
YOU WANTED TO KNOW
And so, my Man of the Year is…Steve Carell.
My tastes in men may be fickle, but there will forever be one straight way to my heart: a great sense of humour. And dear Steve may possibly be the funniest man to grace television and film today. That’s why I’d risk turning this website into a Steve Carell tribute site just to be able to reiterate my love for him.
Just a couple of years ago, people all over the world were saying, “Steve Car-who?” That’s because up until a couple of years ago, Steve was playing third or fourth fiddle in various comedic hits like Bruce Almighty (2003) and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy (2004). And let’s face it, no matter how good you are, there is no way that anyone could ever eclipse Jim Carrey or Will Ferrell. Before these significant hits, Steve was garnering laughs on “The Daily Show” (1999-2004) as a hapless correspondent. And even before “The Daily Show,” there was “Watching Ellie” (2002) and “The Dana Carvey Show” (1996), which were so short-lived that they barely outlast the lifespan of one fruit fly.
But despite a couple of career missteps, Steve managed to forge an impressive resume. With six years of The Second City comedy troupe experience under his belt (where the droll Stephen Colbert was his understudy), Steve went on to write for “The Dana Carvey Show.” Although the show was about as well received as a David Spade marathon, it did spawn the hilarious cartoon “The Ambiguously Gay Duo,” which Steve, along with Stephen Colbert, voiced. Then there was “The Daily Show”’s regular skit, “Even Stephven,” which is still among the show’s most well liked segments.
Despite minor triumphs on television, the small screen wasn’t enough for Steve. He eventually made the leap to the big screen with Bruce Almighty (although his debut occurred over a decade ago with Curly Sue (1991)). His part in Bruce Almighty was small, but it rivaled some of the funniest moments in the film. As the dim-witted Brick Tamland in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy, Steve again turned out an amusing performance in the few scenes where he appeared.
But it wasn’t until 2005 that things started to happen. That was the year of The 40-Year-Old Virgin, which became a surprise hit considering its frat-boy title, and managed to land on the American Film Institute’s list of top films of 2005. For a comedy starring a relatively unknown actor about a grown-up boy with obnoxious friends, The 40-Year-Old Virgin succeeded on all levels: it was entertaining, and it treated sex with an unexpectedly mature attitude while getting in the anticipated sex jokes. The success of his first starring role earned Steve a spot in the illustrious Frat Pack, alongside existing members Will Ferrell, Jack Black, Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, and Luke and Owen Wilson. 2005 also marked the debut of “The Office,” which had mediocre first season ratings but picked up considerably in its second season. No doubt it might have had something to do with Steve’s box office popularity.
In 2006, Steve came full circle. He remained on “The Office” as clueless boss Michael Scott, and he co-starred in the independent dark comedy Little Miss Sunshine, which, coincidentally, also made it on the American Film Institute’s list of best films of 2006. Both projects held their own challenges, but Steve handled them with the ease of a Hollywood veteran. It was also in 2006 that an MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance (for The 40-Year-Old Virgin), a Television Critics Association Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Comedy (for “The Office”), and a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor (for “The Office”) fell in his lap.
Steve’s star may be rising, but it takes more than just a table at the best restaurant in town to earn the Man of the Year distinction. It’s his trademark hangdog look, or his willingness in interviews to talk about how unfunny he is, or the fact that he’s a devoted family man (who happens to be married to “Saturday Night Live” alumni Nancy Walls) that makes him personable. It’s his readiness to look like a fool every week on “The Office,” or his infamous chest waxing scene from The 40-Year-Old Virgin where he insisted he use his real chest hair, or the second season finale of “The Office” (titled “Casino Night”), which he penned, that makes us appreciate his talent and love for comedy. And it’s the fact that he decided to stick it out with “The Office” after the success of The 40-Year-Old Virgin that makes him a true passionate thespian.
Unlike past picks that self-destructed before the new year had even begun (ahem, Eminem), Steve’s future looks bright. With another Golden Globe nomination on the way, plus a Writers Guild of America nomination for “Casino Night,” not to mention three high-profile films lined up (Dan in Real Life (2006), Evan Almighty (2006), and Get Smart (2008)), it doesn’t look like Steve is going anywhere anytime soon. And let’s face it, we wouldn’t really want it any other way. ¤ C.Ho.