Zach Galifianakis, take note: Just because everybody -- including us -- thinks you're effin' hilarious right now doesn't mean that people might not get tired of your shtick one of these days.
We'll be the first to admit it: Zach G. is still funny now. Whenever we see him in 'The Hangover' with the baby? Never gets old. The trailer for 'Due Date,' where he's annoying the crap out of Robert Downey Jr. for three minutes, has great comic potential. But in all of these, including the new dramedy 'It's Kind of A Funny Story,' Galifianakis is starting to look a little same-y.
And that's a problem.
For most big-screen funnymen, there comes a point when the gimmick that made them famous begins to wear. Jack Black had an early career trajectory -- beloved indie comedian to buzz-worthy Hollywood hotshot -- similar to Galifianakis's, and though he's still a bankable star, few have flipped over his mainstream work since 2003's 'School of Rock.' Jim Carrey, Billy Crystal, Adam Sandler and Mike Myers all slipped from their once-lofty comic perches, too.
So how can the bearded buffoon learn from that history and avoid losing his cred? Let's look for some clues as to what he can do to avoid turning into Robin Williams.
Quit Making Stupid Movies
Since 'The Hangover,' Galifianakis has appeared in the direct-to-DVD dud 'Operation: Endgame,' in which he, Rob Corddry, Jeffrey Tambor and Bob Odenkirk are all not funny together. He has a brief appearance in the Michael Cera flop 'Youth in Revolt.' And he stars as Steve Carrell's nemesis in 'Dinner for Schmucks.'
When compared with Jack Black, it's roughly comparable to 'Saving Silverman', 'Orange County', and 'Tropic Thunder' -- movies that did little to endear him to audiences. If Galifianakis can avoid appearing in films that don't adequately showcase his talents or aren't outright money-grabs, his adoring fan base is more likely stay on board.
Stop Playing the Same Character Over And Over
Let's check out what Zach G. plays in the movies mentioned above -- a weird, creepy assassin who lives in his own world ('Operation: Endgame'); a weird, creepy loser who lives in his own world ('Youth in Revolt'); and a weird, creepy IRS agent who lives in his own world ('Dinner for Schmucks'). All of this, and the bearded schlub he plays on HBO's 'Bored to Death' is also very weird and kind of creepy.
Not looking good so far -- and his character in 'Due Date' looks to be a carbon copy of the dude he played in 'The Hangover.' Maybe his part in 'It's Kind of A Funny Story' will break the mold? Well, he plays a weird, creepy mental patient, so ... yikes. Just once, we'd like to see Galifianakis playing the well-adjusted adult surrounded by a bunch of wackos.
Remember What Made Him Funny to Begin With
Galifianakis got super-famous pretty much overnight because his character in 'The Hangover' wasn't just a weird, creepy dude -- he was a weird, creepy dude we'd never seen before. When a guy starts to coast on the persona that made him famous, it's not a good sign.
The part of the 'Due Date' trailer that gets the biggest laugh is when he stares into the camera and says, "You better check yourself before you wreck yourself." But it's also a line that threatens to be his shark-jump moment -- once the thrill of a sloppy, overweight, white comedian quoting Ice Cube wears off, it's only a few movies before he's got his own 'Nacho Libre' or 'Year One' out there, squandering all of the goodwill he earned when everyone thought he was funny.
With any luck, Zach Galifianakis will keep surprising us and reinventing himself in the way still-beloved comic actors like Bill Murray and Steve Martin have over the years. And either way, we're totally seeing 'The Hangover 2.'