If there ever was a case of the right actor in the wrong part, it was when the NBC overlords cast Paul Rudd as the boyfriend of Phoebe Buffet, Lisa Kudrow's character on Friends . By then the once-hilarious cash cow Friends had turned into a brightly colored satire of the original show, and Rudd's vast comedic skills were tragically under-utilized. Rudd will try to avenge that travesty on tonight's Saturday Night Live . Fortunately, the star of David Wain's surprise hit Role Models has plenty of sketch expertise to fall back on. In clips from the early days of Wain's Comedy Central series Stella , HBO's Little Britain USA , and the classic Michael Showalter parody of director David O. Russell, Rudd brings it the way he should live tonight:Unlike most of the actors in the Apatow milieu, Rudd didn't start out in sketch comedy or stand-up, as he explains in an interview :
This has been a strange trajectory for me. I’ve always been a comedy fan, but I never did sketch comedy, I never studied improvisation, never did stand-up, that was never my goal. I went to college and studied theater, I went to a theater conservatory, I live in New York because I wanted to do plays and still do plays. I love dramatic films and wanted to do everything. I still do want to go back and forth between different things. How I got started in comedies, with the comedies I’m doing now, I think a turning point for me was Wet Hot American Summer. It was not a standard Hollywood comedy— even Clueless, which I think is very funny and clever, more people will have liked Clueless than Wet Hot American Summer, but Wet Hot American Summer I really thought spoke to a specific part of my sense of humor. That’s how I became such good friends with David and Ken and a lot of that group. As a result I think it helped me get cast in Anchorman because Adam McKay loved Wet Hot American Summer. Within the alternative comedy scene and comedy writers, a lot of people like that movie, Adam McKay being one of them. It helped me get that part in Anchorman, which was the script I read that I had the strongest desire to be in since Wet Hot. I don’t have that kind of reaction to most things.No longer just a cult movie, Wet Hot was directed by Wain as well, and was way funnier than his follow-up, The Ten . Rudd plays the most amazing asshole boyfriend: It's too bad Rudd doesn't do more sketch, as he's the anti-thesis of Jimmy Fallon: a total stage pro. He still shows up in the format from time to time, though. This video short was a key part of the VHS tape that the Stella comedy troupe — Michael Ian Black, David Wain, and Michael Showalter — would screen and sell on the road, and eventually formed the basis of the Comedy Central series Stella . Click to view Here's Rudd on a recent ep of Little Britain USA playing the French president. Click to view Then there's the legendary parody of David O. Russell's tantrum on the set of I Heart Huckabees : Click to view Fuckabees!