Earlier today, we brought you a list of The Worst People of 2008, because we speak truth to power, if you can really consider Brody Jenner powerful (you cannot consider Brody Jenner powerful). So we wanted to take an equally meaningful look at some of our favorite people of the past year. A lot of times we are so busy searching the internet for the latest videos of rednecks driving ATVs into swimming pools that we forget to show our appreciation for the wonderfully talented people who produce so many great things that we genuinely love.
It’s almost hard to believe that Charlie Day is only one fifth of an ensemble cast, because as far as we’re concerned, he carries the whole show. Sure, Dee is great, too, but Charlie is the real laugh-horse. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is uneven, with as many epic FAILS as epic WINS, but when it hits, it’s great, and when it hits, it’s usually because of Charlie.
There’s just something about Alec Baldwin, man. Whether he’s performing impossible-seeming feats of comic acting on 30 Rock, barely skirting slander charges while promoting his Revenge Memoir, A Promise To Ourselves, or just calling Sarah Palin “Bible Spice,” the dude lights up a room like a firecracker fuse. His is the classiest, most graceful case of acquired situational narcissism Hollywood has ever seen – and we swear, at least half the time he seems totally in on the joke. But then somebody gets him started on the subject of parenting and oops, nevermind, nope! We love Alec Baldwin, and we’ve made a Promise To Ourselves over here that whatever he does, we’re going to be watching. He’s a National Treasure.
Chuck Bass is not an actual human being, but he’s still one of the best “people” of the year. He’s one of the most three-dimensional characters on television, and he says things like “I’m bored, and you’ve ruined my pants.” This season he has transformed from a villain into a sympathetic villain, and the cat and mouse game he’s playing with Blair is almost as much fun as actual flirting. No it’s not, but it is very fun. Chuck Bass 4 eva.
We’re not stupid. We know that a paragraph in an end of year Best Of list on videogum.com is probably the least appropriate or meaningful place to render a tribute to someone who has passed away, particularly someone so talented. But we don’t think that bars us from taking the opportunity to recognize that Heath Ledger was a great actor, and that is passing was unfortunate, and that we wish everyone could live forever. Even these guys.
Do we even need to say why Paul Rudd? Every “thinking person” either wants to bang him or be him. He can do absolutely no wrong, except die. (God forbid!) Paul Rudd is the best person on this list. Next.
If you had told us a year ago that one of our favorite things ever was going to be an on-line dance battle between the director of Step Up 2: The Streets and Hannah Montana, we would have told you no, David Blaine. But Jon Chu changed that when he threw down the gauntlet to Miley Cyrus and then handily demolished her (no matter what the Teen Choice Awards thinks). We’re so into aggressive dance battles now! And he used the publicity for the entire feud to promote a charity! Top that!
Neil Patrick Harris
We don’t know how the residual check system for early ’90s TV shows works, but were so glad NPH’s started to run out or whatever so he had to come back and be famous again. Neil Patrick Harris will say yes to any assignment (even an internet musical!) and hit it out of the park. Neal Patrick Harris like Alec Baldwin in training.
Americans have criticized Chris Lilley’s mockumentary-style TV show, Summer Heights High, as being a Christopher Guest rip-off. But the thing is, Christopher Guest is so intensely great that even a rip-off can be the best thing on television. We’re not saying that anyone ripped off anyone else, we’re just saying that Chris Lilley’s a wonderful actor and performer, his show is very funny, and that you could do worse in this world than be a successful comedian whose main influence is clearly Christopher Guest.
There’s a reason we made the Videogum “Louis C.K. Promise,” and that reason is that Louis C.K. is the single best working stand-up comedian in the United States of America. His ability to casually relate to the audience with his cunningly observant anecdotes and highly personal stories is unparalleled. Even his long-winded YouTube videos promoting upcoming shows in Tempe, AZ are hilarious. And his Showtime comedy special last fall, Chewed Up, is one of the funniest performances ever filmed. If you’re not already a superfan, clean the stupid out of your brain and get on board, you fucking idiot.
It would be insulting to give Mr. Chi-City an honorary title like “Best Vlogger of the Year,” because we all know that vloggers are the worst. But his videos aren’t really vlogs. They’re long-form, intensely absorbing character pieces. If Orson Welles lived in our time, and was young, and black, and said ni$$a a lot, and was obsessed with women, and had a fridge full of Kool Aid, and hated bugs, this is probably what he’d be doing. We’re basically saying that Mr. Chi-City could vlog the phonebook and we’d watch it, which is saying a lot, because the only thing more boring than vlogs is the phonebook.
Earlier this month, when Carrie Fisher dared to appear on The Today Show (to promote her BOOK, Wistful Drinking) without the requisite obvious and horrifying plastic surgery of a Hollywood woman her age, one of the editors of this site was so livid about the demeaning, cheap, and lazy way some blogs covered the appearance that s/he almost quit the internet. We don’t care if Carrie’s decision to use her brain to write books and punch up screenplays instead of chasing the body dysmorphia dragon ruins your childhood fantasies about Princess Leia in the gold bikini. It’s a fucking gold bikini. They sell them at American Apparel. If you love it so much, buy one for your nonexistent girlfriend and leave Carrie Fisher the fuck alone. Her “This is me: take it or leave it” attitude is refreshing and should be applauded. Carrie Fisher rules.
Roger Ebert will be on this list every year for as long as he lives, which we hope is a very long time. From his Q&A column, to his mocking dissection of intelligent design, to his earnest, heartfelt blog posts, no one is as forthright and clear sighted in the mainstream critical thinking game, and no one PWNS people as hard. Roger Ebert will demolish you clowns. Roger Ebert is king.
The truth is that there’s no such thing as genuine appreciation of Sexman. At least we have the balls (and vagina) to admit that. Everyone who talks about how great Sexman is has their tongue firmly planted in their cheek. Because let’s face it, he is silly. His sailor-caliber cursing and angry rants about Samuel L. Jackson are funny because they are ridiculous. But our well-guarded, cynically ironic enjoyment of his work is nothing compared to the bold-faced critique he receives with every new video from the YouTube commenting community. They let him know on a regular basis that he is a gay retard who should get braces. And the fact that he unabashedly keeps going, for whatever reason, whether it’s because he likes the attention or because he genuinely has something to say, is respectable. Hopefully one day soon we will be laughing with him at least as much as we are laughing at him. 50-50.
You know what, sometimes you just have to dance. And you can’t be worried about whether or not your clothes look like discarded rags from the Units? factory or whether your room/dance floor has that threatening “mom’s about to walk in any second” vibe. You just play the song on your MegaTREBLE cellphone and perform an incredibly athletic, perfect rendition of an impressively complicated dance. Then you’re on Ellen.
Whatever you think about Norm MacDonald’s roast of Bob Saget last summer…just kidding, there’s only one way to think of it: PURE GENIUS. The man so thoroughly parodied the roast tradition that it’s hard to imagine how they can even have roasts anymore. That was it. They’re done. Norm MacDonald Won. In addition to being the most astonishing and, we’re sorry, truly beautiful moments on TV this year, Norm’s reply to Jim Norton’s lazy insult: “Why, I don’t think there’s a person here who would not LOVE to watch Henry Fonda pick blueberries!” has become a bona fide teen street slang phrase. Jk, but that would be awesome. Norm MacDonald: best.
Tina Fey was the Michael Phelps of comedy this year. The difference is that Michael Phelps is a boring pancake-eating robot who only knows three words: “swimming,” “Olympics,” and “gold medals.” Tina Fey, on the other hand, knows a ton of words, and she uses them to be one of the smartest, funniest writers in America. And we recognize, because we’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point, that at a certain point success reinforces success and compouns upon itself into some kind of self-congratulatory echo-chamber, but the fact of the matter still stands: Tina Fey is very, very good at what she does, and it’s nice that she’s starting to get recognition for that fact.
Comedy nerds have been slavishly fanatical about Zach Galifianakis for years, but one of the reasons he’s so great is that he clearly does not give a FUCK about what comedy nerds are slavishly fanatical about. His on-line videos this year have been odd, confrontational, and incredibly funny. Galifianakis, more than almost any other performer, seems to want nothing more than to make himself laugh, and considering the fact that half of this website’s posts are barely legible collections of inside jokes and deep cut pop culture references, that is something that we respect very much.