From the moment we laid eyes on him in the first episode of Ugly Betty, we knew that Michael Urie, who plays the fabulously gay assistant, Marc St James, was something special. Who else could lift a snobby nose in the air with so much height? Who else could pull off brightly colored argyle vests without looking absurd. He doesn't just walk through the Mode offices- he sails. There's something balletic about his performance each week. It's upright, graceful and controlled.
It should come as no surprise then that this Juilliard-trained Shakespearean actor is a student of physical comedy. When we asked him to do a list for us, we were delighted when he suggested his seven favourite physical comedians. And when he promised to start off with our all-time favourite, John Ritter, we knew we found a soulmate.
1) John Ritter (Three's Company, 8 Simple Rules)- 'He was the best. No one takes a punch, slams a finger in the trunk or face-plants a swinging door like Ritter. He made it look easy but it also looked like it hurt every time'.
My fave: The electrotherapy scene in 'Skin Deep'.
2) Martin Short (Saturday Night Live, Inner Space, Three Amigos, The Three Fugitives)- 'He's my hero. Prance around in Grey hair and a fat suit like you're a skinny guy. It seems like an easy idea, but when Short is Jimmy Gilick and he dances around and falls about in the back of chairs, it's sidesplitting. If I was a real guy that size and that large, we'd worry but he's the indestructable Martin Short. He'll be fine.'
My fave: The cigarette scene in 'The Big Picture'.
3) John Lithgow (Third Rock From The Sun, Footloose)- 'In 'Third Rock From the Sun, Lithgow's idiot alien high commander, Dick Solomon, fearlessly explored every facet of life for the first time as a full grown baby with a new body. Hysterical'.
My fave: The official alien salute, and when Dick treats his laptop like an etch-a-sketch.
4) Danny Devito (Ruthless People, Throw Momma From The train, Taxi, Romancing the Stone)- 'Watch little Danny Devito scurry around that dingy Taxi garage while Christopher Lloyd, Judd Hirsh and Andy Kaufman, tower over him as his blood pressure shoots through the roof and his tie gets looser. And in 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' as the worst dad ever; he's a 60-something acting like a 20-something.'
My fave: 'The Contract' promo for 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia'.
5) Carol Burnett (All My Children)- 'The woman wore a curtain on a rod as a DRESS. Nuff said'.
My fave: 'Noises off'.
6) Dick Van Dyke (Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang)- 'The godfather of TV physical comedy, he puts the prat in pratfall. He manages to fall over an ottoman, get up and laugh at himself before he even knows what he fell over'.
My fave: 'The Chim- Chim Cher-ee scene in Mary Poppins'.
7) Molly Shannon/Kristen Wiig (Saturday Night Live)- 'Ok, I am not comparing these two (though how about a twins movie??? Right???) as genius women on Saturday Night Live; I'm merely lumping them together. Also, they both throw themselves through windows, which is always hysterical. Somehow, I can't help thinking... 'and it's a girl!'... which is somehow funnier to me'.