Top 10 Acting Performances By Athletes
8/27/2009 10:35am EDT | By: MatthewJ Swanson
A director getting the optimum performance out of an actor is not unlike a coach getting a great performance out of an athlete. One has to use the right guy in the right scene with expert timing. These are situations where one could film countless scenes of all different kinds, and getting laughs so big with these athletes would seem impossible - they're almost perfect. Remember, the fellas on this list appear here because they got the biggest laughs, not because they were the best actors or in the best movies. While Something About Mary is a funnier and better movie than many on this list, Brett Favre does not make the list because his laughs are gained primarily by the fact that it's a big payoff that the past boyfriend spoken of happens to be Brett Farve, not because his performance is anything special. But, knowing Brett, he'll probably have a press conference announcing an acting "come back." That being said, get a look at the list below, and play ball by submitting your own entries in the comment section.
10. Cam Neely as Sea Bass in Dumb And Dumber
At first glance, it would appear that a lot of the laughs come out of this scene simply because Cam Neely's name is Sea Bass, and the ridiculous name is said over-and-over, which does not hurt, but in reality, the Boston hockey great has some pretty solid comedic chops. If you'll recall, Harry spills some salt, and his traveling companion, Lloyd, reminds him that he needs to counter act that bad luck by throwing some salt over his right shoulder*, which Harry does by whipping the entire shaker behind him, hitting a guy in a trucker hat who is built like a, well, pro hockey player, who proceeds to spit a loogy into Harry's burger. Cam is big, scary, funny, and it looks like he's spit a loogy or two in his day.
*Upon watching this clip again, it appears as if Lloyd points to Harry's left shoulder. For a movie with variations of the word dumb in the title not once but twice, there is some good, subtle humor in this picture.
9. Xavier McDaniel as himself in Singles.
While fornicating on the floor, Kyra Sedgwick asks Campbell Scott what he's thinking about, and it turns out he's thinking what all men think about in bed, if they want to last a little longer: Sports. In his case, he is thinking of a press conference with NBA forward Xavier McDaniel in which the X-Man is providing an insightful explanation of his approach to the game, claiming that he just plays hard nosed basketball and doesn't set out to be a goon, at which point the reporter asks if he has anything else to say, to which Xavier looks right into the camera and says something even more insightful, "Yes, Steve, don't cum yet." Amazing.
8. Big Jim Slade as Big Jim Slade in Kentucky Fried Movie
In a sketch in this film, as a couple becomes intimate with one another, the man puts on a record called The Joy of Sex, which outlines step-by-step how to satisfy each other. Unfortunately, the male lead has a case of premature ejaculation. Not to worry, as the narrator informs us that this album comes equipped with former tight end of Kansas City Chiefs, Big Jim Slade who can take over the duties with your lady, and just then, Big Jim comes busting through the wall, as a football fight song kicks in, Jim picks up his woman, and goes back through the hole in the wall, unconcerned that he has bumped her head on the wall on his way out.
Sex Record Voice: "Big Jim, former tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs, is outfitted with various whips, chains, and a sexual appetite that will knock your socks off!
[Big Jim carries the woman away]
Sex Record Voice: Big Jim has satisfied women throughout the world, and the capital of Nebraska is Lincoln!"*
Big Jim's 20 seconds on film is funnier than hell, and it could not have hurt his reputation as a ladies man.
*Can anyone explain that Nebraska line to us?
7. Hulk Hogan as Thunder Lips the Ultimate Male in Rocky III
If you ask most professional wrestlers who were Hulk's contemporaries, they will tell you that he was not a technically sound wrestler. Let's face it, he had two very basic, sloppy looking signature moves, tossing the guy off the ropes and catching him in the face with a yellow boot, and then jumping up and landing on the guy with the back end of his muscle-swollen thigh. But, what made him a champion, gained him notoriety, merchandizing up the wazoo, and made him the face of the World Wrestling Federation, was that he was a terrific showman, which he is even more so in Rocky III, because he's an even more effective bad guy, or heal, as they are called by Wrestling experts. However, it doesn't take an expert to know that Professional Wrestling is fake, and it's made out to be at least partially real in this scene, which makes it a lot of fun. After beating up Balboa for a while, much to Rocky's surprise because he thought it would be staged, then beating up a few cops, he then lets Rocky get the best of him to please the crowd. After the match, Rocky says to him, "Hey, why'd you get so crazy on me out there?" to which Thunderlips the Ultimate Male (still love that name) says, "That's the name of the game." Indeed it is, Thunderlips, and that's why you solidified that number 7 spot on our countdown.
6. Mike Tyson as Mike Tyson in The Hangover.
In this film, not only does he air drum that killer drum fill in Phil Collins' In the Air Tonight, he also has his pet tiger stolen by a bachelor party gone wrong. He's hilarious one minute, and really scary the next minute, which is probably what it's like to hang out with Mike. That being said, you have to hand it to Mike Tyson for playing the role of Mike Tyson perfectly.
5. OJ Simpson as Detective Nordberg in Naked Gun
Okay, let me just stress that this is not the opinion of anyone at Starpulse except me and me only: The fact that OJ was involved in a double murder makes his performance funnier in the Naked Gun films. Now, I know that's insensitive to anyone who knows the Goldman family, anyone who's experienced domestic violence, or anyone who is morally opposed to anything that guy stands for, and I'm certainly not a fan of the guy. But, Nordberg is just funnier after the murders and ensuing trial, that's all. I'm sorry. I can't help what I think is funny, and save me a spot to watch the Naked Gun trilogy, in hell, right next to Juice himself.
4. Kareem as Hakim in Game of Death and Kareem as Roger Murdock in Airplane!
Kareem was a student of Bruce Lee's, and whether or not his karate is good is not for us to decide, but he looks damn funny in his sunglasses and whitey-tighties, fighting someone half his size, starting out by calmly having a seat in a chair and kicking Bruce in the chest, leaving a black footprint on his yellow jumpsuit. Just two years later, Kareem appeared in Airplane! as Roger Murdock, who one child passenger is convinced is actually Kareem, which he denies, until the boy says that his dad says Abdul-Jabbar is lazy on the court, at which point Kareem breaks character, laying into the kid about how hard he works day-in and day-out in the NBA, scaring the crap out of the young man, while name dropping some awesomely dated hoopsters. Brilliant. Mr. Abdul-Jabbar gets to have two movies on this list because he is the all-time scoring champ and the best celebrity Jeopardy player ever to ring in with that little stick thingy.
3. Alex Karras as Mango in Blazing Saddles
Mr. Karras played professional football, a sport in which somewhere along the line he earned the name "The Mad Duck," and then he wrestled where he earned the painful sounding name, "Dick the Bruiser." Let us not forget that he was also the kinder, gentler adoptive father, George Papadopoulos, on TV's Webster, but his finest moment was when he portrayed Mungo, the dim witted indestructible mercenary in the immortal Blazing Saddles. His finest line: "Mungo merely pawn in game of life." He also punches out a horse, and it's hard to believe they trained a horse to fall down like that in such a dramatic fashion. Did Mungo really slug that horse? . . . However, it's astounding that Mungo, while eating beans during the famous farting scene, does not get off a fart of his own. He could have been what Ogre is to burping in Revenge of the Nerds, although, Ogre was overshadowed by being outbelched by Booger, but that's another list for another time.
2. Marques Johnson as Raymond in White Men Can't Jump
In this underrated sports film, Marques expertly plays Raymond, the part-time street basketball hustler, fulltime just plain hustler. Raymond is short on the amount of money to bet on the game, so he grabs a ski mask out of his glove box to rob the local store, only the proprietor recognizes him, so Raymond just sells him the gun to raise the remaining money. Sadly, he then loses the game to Sydney, Wesley Snipes' character, who beat him by pretending not to know his partner,Billy, played by Woody Harrelson, who Raymond deemed a "goofy white muther-F'er. Defeated, humiliated, and scammed out of his last dime, Raymond is left with no choice but to deliver his best line: "No. No. F*c$ this. Both you m&th*rf#cke^s are crazy. I'm going to my car . . . Get my other gun. . . Shoot everybody's ass." Marques is just about as talented and funny of an actor as any of the more experienced ones on those courts, and for that, he gets on our list, with or without the guns in his glove box.
1. Bob Euker as Harry Doyle in Major League
You may be thinking, hey, that doesn't count! He's an announcer. True, but not only was he the dad on Mr. Belvidere, he also was a career .200 hitter during his six seasons in the majors, exactly .200. It goes to show, you don't have to be a good player to be a good announcer, or a good actor, because Bob is smashing as both. He has been the voice of the Milwaukee Brewers since 1971, and in Major League, as the drunken, sarcastic, embittered announcer Harry Doyle, he gets off some of the greatest lines in any baseball movie. Period. To name a few:
"That's all we got? One God damn hit?"
"The post-game show is brought to you by..."
[searches through his papers]
: Christ, I can't find it. To hell with it.
"Heywood leads the league in most offensive categories, including nose hair. When this guy sneezes, he looks like a party favor."
Or the way he calmly delivers this:
Harry Doyle [Vaughn is coming out to pitch] So, here is Rick Vaughn, the one they call the "Wild Thing". So, he sets and deals.
[Vaughn throws a wild pitch]
Harry Doyle: Just a bit outside, he tried for the corner and missed.
[Vaughn throws another wild pitch]
Harry Doyle: Ball 4.
[Vaughn throws another wild pitch]
Harry Doyle: Ball 8.
[Vaughn throws another wild pitch]
Harry Doyle: Low, and he walks the bases loaded on 12 straight pitches. How can these guys lay off pitches that close?
We can go all night like this because everything out of Mr. Baseball's voice is gold in this classic film, but personally, I like the subtlety with which he deftly dabs a little Jack Daniels behind his ear. That's a class move that has gotten me a laugh on many a night, and I have you to thank, Bob, or should I say Harry.
Story by Matthew J. Swanson
Starpulse contributing writer