It is safe to say that comedy and sports are continuously entwined in one another, because the majority of comedians working today developed their sense of isolation and neurosis from years of being picked on by jocks. When sports and comedy collide to create a film, the results can vary from brilliant (Slap Shot, Caddyshack), to terrible (Slap Shot 2, Caddyshack 2). This also applies to athletes-as-actors, with performances ranging from the surprisingly hilarious (Kareem Abdul Jabbar in Airplane!) to the not-so-surprisingly awful (Terrell Owens in "Under One Roof".) Below are six giants of modern American comedy, and their counterparts in modern American sports.
Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart are
Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby.
Much like the relationship between Colbert and Stewart, rarely does a conversation about Sidney Crosby not include some mention of Alex Ovechkin, and history will undoubtedly judge these 2 in comparison with one another. While some have taken solid stances in favor of one or the other, most agree that the real point is that they are equally exceptional. Recently, they've begun a string of dominance during awards season, in terms of both nominations and victories, and its safe to say they will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Also like Stewart and Colbert, Crosby and Ovechkin find themselves performing on networks that don't provide nearly enough exposure for their vast talents, and all four have become household names despite relatively low ratings. Crosby is the most like Stewart, a cerebral talent who makes everyone around him better despite lack of ideal size, and critics of both claim they are too soft. Ovechkin, like Colbert, is a brash and in-your face persona whom critics say place too much focus on themselves.
Judd Apatow is
Each is the mastermind behind their respective juggernauts, which have completely overtaken their industries this decade. They are both "lifers" who toiled in relative obscurity through the 90s into the very early part of the decade, though were each praised by their peers. Apatow helped produced the brilliant "Larry Sanders Show", "Freaks and Geeks" and "Undeclared", while Belichick was consistently touted as the best defensive mind in the NFL for years as a Defensive Coordinator. Each revolutionized their fields, Belichick changing the way everyone evaluates players and making the 3-4 defense popular, and Apatow changing the way everyone thinks of comedies at the box office. They each have taken unknowns, such as Tom Brady and Seth Rogen, turned them into stars, and made them a lot of money. Each has endured backlashes like the Patriot's cheating scandal and criticism of people who claim Apatow is over saturating the industry with unrealistic comedies. Yet no matter what you say about these two,you can't deny that everyone wants to work with them because they get results.
The Simpsons are
Ken Griffey Jr.
Simply put, they each dominated the 90s, and until the start of the millenium were on their way to becoming the undisputed greatest in their field, until injuries and writer-castoffs derailed their potential. They each revolutionized their industries with never-before-seen originality and talent, all while upsetting the establishment. Griffey Jr. even lent his voice on an episode of The Simpsons, and each had their own video games. Critics say Griffey Jr; who would wear his hat backwards and was constantly smiling, didn't take the game seriously. Meanwhile, critics of The Simpsons claimed they didn't take the role of the traditional American family or culture seriously. Over the past few years, each have reclaimed some of their legacy through the actions of others. Griffey Jr. is celebrated for playing clean in the Steroid Era, and the success of The Simpsons Movie, coupled with the creative abomination Family Guy experienced in just its 7th season, puts the genius and proliferate work of The Simpsons in perspective.
Jay Leno is
Like Jay Leno, Tyler Hansbrough has, for years, been derided as wildly overrated, and given his limited skill set, undeserving of the praise and attention he receives.Hansbrough won the Naismith award over the more talented Michael Beasley,and Leno has been dominating the more talented Letterman in ratings for years. Also like Leno, Hansbrough has been lauded as the hardest worker in the business, bar none. Over this last year, each has last their position at the top to younger and more talented newcomers, but still have come out on top. Blake Griffin won the Naismith and is the consensus #1 pick, but Hansbrough won the national championship. Meanwhile, Conan O'Brien will be taking over the Tonight Show, but Leno will have a nightly 10 pm show. Now, with Hansbrough off to the NBA and Leno on every night, each will have to prove themselves to critics all over again.
Will Ferrell is
The Boston Red Sox.In the 90s through early this decade, they were the lovable losers everyone could laugh at and not feel bad about, because they never seemed to take themselves seriously. Ferrell's characters and the Red Sox were charmingly non-threatening, and had a devoted fan base who took pride in their loserdom. Then, in 2002, things began to change. Ferrell left SNL, and the Red Sox were bought out by new owners. After 2004, everything was different. Ferrell had Anchorman and Old School under his belt and became a bona-fide household name, and the Red Sox finally broke their curse. From then on, they were inescapable. "Will Ferrell movies" entered the pop culture lexicon much in the same way as "Red Sox Nation."(Full disclosure: author is card carrying member.) Now, each are poised for another heavily exposed summer, and fans of each try are trying to remedy the inevitable backlash by pointing to far worse cases: Adam Sandler and The Yankees.