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When The Hasty Pudding calls Saul, he answers.
On the evening of Feb. 2, the centuries-old theater troupe officially deemed actor Bob Odenkirk — best known for his role as Saul Goodman in “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul” — as the 2023 Man of the Year. Each year, The Hasty Pudding awards the honors of Man and Woman of the Year to “performers who have made lasting and impressive contributions to the world of entertainment.” Odenkirk’s Woman of the Year counterpart, Jennifer Coolidge, was celebrated in a separate ceremony on Feb. 4. Both celebrations mark the start of Hasty Pudding’s 174th production titled “Cosmic Relief,” which runs until March 5 at Farkas Hall.
The night’s festivities began with a light-hearted roast of the award-winning actor, led by Lyndsey R. Mugford ‘23 and Nikita Nair ‘24, the President and Cast Vice President of “Cosmic Relief,” respectively. The roast started off with both students poking fun at Odenkirk for failing to secure an Emmy or Golden Globe award for playing Saul Goodman, a point of much contention within the “Breaking Bad” fandom.
After the roasters launched a few more playful insults at Odenkirk, they made him change into an ill-fitting pink dress. Once adorned, the show continued to take far whackier turns. Hearkening back to Odenkirk’s time as a writer on “Saturday Night Live,” the Hasty Pudding Theatricals tested his cue card reading skills, cleverly tricking the actor into reading lines that mocked his thinning hair. The most memorable moment of the night was when one roaster brought out a parody “Butter Call Saul” poster and made the actor stick his hands into a large pan of butter.
The roast was not completely one-sided, however, as Odenkirk was able to sneak in a few jabs at Harvard during his comedic acceptance speech. The audience burst into laughter when Odenkirk pretended to be reading his notes in the margins of the speech, reminding himself of the high stakes of the moment by exclaiming, “It’s Harvard! They pay $1,000 to go here!”
At a press conference following the roast, Odenkirk made it known that he took no offense to the jokes made at his expense. “It was so not brutal. I’m so aware of the thinningness of my hair,” Odenkirk said.
The Harvard Crimson asked the actor about his upcoming projects and whether or not he plans on returning to comedy after recently ending his dramatic tenure as Saul Goodman. Odenkirk called attention to his upcoming television series “Lucky Hank,” which premieres on AMC on March 19 and is co-written by Aaron R. Zelman ‘95. “It’s a comedy and it’s one of the reasons I wanted to do it was because it’s lighter, way more comedy than 'Better Call Saul,’ which was very funny at times. But Saul wasn’t kind of in on the joke, he was the joke,” said Odenkirk.
After the remainder of the press conference, during which Odenkirk fielded questions about his recent heart attack and sources of motivation as an actor, he and the rest of the crowd in Farkas Hall were shown a brief preview of “Cosmic Relief.”
Overall, Odenkirk seemed to enjoy his celebratory trip to Cambridge, sharing that the event was “really fun” before triumphantly kissing his newly awarded pudding pot. That kiss, however, came shortly after Odenkirk was truly initiated as Man of the Year in iconic Hasty Pudding fashion: with a kiss on both cheeks from Maureen Clare ‘23-‘24 and Jacob K. Ostfeld ‘23, a writer and a cast member of “Cosmic Relief,” respectively.
—Staff writer Brady M. Connolly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @bradyconnolly44.
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