The Rundown is a weekly column that highlights some of the biggest, weirdest, and most notable events of the week in entertainment. The number of items could vary, as could the subject matter. It will not always make a ton of sense. Some items might not even be about entertainment, to be honest, or from this week. The important thing is that it’s Friday, and we are here to have some fun.
ITEM NUMBER ONE — Please give me a show about Mitch
Something incredible happened on Barry this week. No, not the chase scene, although that was incredible too, with dirtbike crashing and used car dealership shootouts and Bill Hader humming little songs. And not the thing where Stephen Root’s character said the phrase “I’m working on it, amigo” in exactly the voice you can hear him saying it in your head right now, although that was also incredible and I can’t wait to text the screencap to my editor the next time he asks about the status of a piece I promised him 48 hours earlier. No, I’m talking about a new character.
Maybe my favorite character on the show now.
I’m talking about Mitch the Beignet guy.
Mitch appeared three times in the episode to deliver delicious pastries and shockingly good life advice to characters on the show. Those screencaps up there are from when he was telling Sally to follow her dreams. The delivery of all of it was incredible, just a deeply stoned guy saying profound and useful things to strangers all day long. Mitch is wonderful. GQ interviewed the actor who played him, Tom Allen, and I am pleased to report it is everything I hoped it would be.
Mitch is played by Tom Allen, a Los Angeles-based actor who says he tends to gravitate towards “childlike, naive, surfer-bro kind of roles.” Even so, Mitch was special. “I love the character so much,” he said. “He cares about people, and he’s achieving what he set out to do. He’s living his dream. So he’s a very aspirational character to me.”
Do you relate to Mitch at all?
I was a philosophy major. And in high school I was called “the most disheveled kid in school.” Everyone thought I was the biggest stoner, I think I just have that aura about me. Everyone’s like, “Oh my God, that guy is so high all the time.” But I actually don’t smoke weed. I think I just naturally have that kind of energy about me. I’m very into abstract thinking with philosophy and giving advice to people.
Perfect. Beautiful. I love every aspect of it and every tangentially related aspect of those original aspects. Here he is giving spot-on relationship advice to my beloved NoHo Hank moments before — after knowing him for all of about 90 seconds and correctly identifying him as “rad” — asking him to run a beignet franchise location.
I… kind of want this. I want Hank and Mitch to become millionaire beignets magnates. I would absolutely watch this show. I would recap it weekly. I need to stress here that nothing I’ve typed in this paragraph is a joke. Funny? Maybe. But not a joke.
And these aren’t even the best Mitch moment. That honor goes to his conversation with Barry later in the episode, when Barry was on the way to an in-person meeting with some people he knew from his military days. Mitch heard this plan and gave this response…
… which, dancing around spoilers if you haven’t seen it yet, proved to be good advice. Mitch is the greatest. I know it’s probably better for the show to use him in tiny doses here and there. I know Bill Hader knows what he’s doing and has things under control. I just… I love him. I know I already said that. I can’t help it. He’s another perfect character on a show filled with them. I didn’t even mention Vanessa Bayer popping up as an executive for a streaming service and basically mailing a perfect little comedy sketch smack in the middle of all of it. Barry is a good show. We all know this but it’s worth saying again. So… I just did it.
Great job by all of us.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — I am pleased to report that the squelching has continued
Stranger Things is back. I suspect you are aware of this. It’s been a whole thing. The fourth go-round of the teen horror/adventure show has been so popular that it sent a song from the mid-1980s rocketing back up to the top of the pop music charts, which is kind of cool, except for the thing where that song is not “Tell It To My Heart” by Taylor Dayne, which I heard in a store a few weeks ago and has been in my head ever since. No offense to Kate Bush. She’s cool, too. But it would be fun if we take Taylor Dayne to number one next.
Anyway, what I’m getting at is that the squelching has returned. Perhaps you remember the squelching. There was so much of it in the third season, which you would know if you read this thing I wrote or took the advice from this other thing I wrote. Stranger Things loves to describe sounds with the word “squelch” or “squelching.” There’s one example at the top of this section. And if you were worried the show had moved on from the squelching, if you feared they had found a new word to describe gross sounds made by various oozes and slimes and goos, well… they went and cleared that up right there in the first episode.
Twice. They did it twice in the first episode. Look.
There are two main takeaways from all of this, which I will now present, to you, for free, although you may send me money if you like:
- No show in history is as committed to squelching as Stranger Things
- I really did not need them to add the “wet” to any of this, and wish they had not, because “wet squelch” is a deeply unsettling phrase
This has been your squelching update.
ITEM NUMBER THREE — Sam Richardson is the best
All Sam Richardson ever does is appear in cool stuff and make it a little better. He stole scenes on Veep as Richard Splett, which is an incredible accomplishment when you look at the people he was stealing them from. He was awesome in Detroiters, a show I loved and screencapped above and am mad at all of you for not watching. He kills every sketch he’s in on I Think You Should Leave, he carried huge chunks of The Afterparty, etc etc etc. He’s the best. Part of me wants him to become the biggest star in the world and part of me just wants him to keep making this cool little stuff I like. It’s a real dilemma. For me.
This brings us to the interview he did with the New Yorker this week. It’s great. He’s a smart and interesting guy and at one point he says comedy is a little bit like jazz, which made me do the full-on DiCaprio Pointing meme at my computer because it reminded me of the Crashmore sketch from ITYSL. The whole thing was a real cosmic gumbo. Again, for me.
One section did jump out at me, though. This one, specifically.
In some ways, it feels like your career is moving along the track set down by people like Tina Fey, other alums from Second City. And yet you’re establishing your own direction maybe in part because you didn’t do the “S.N.L.” thing. Do you still have the role models that you had when you were in your late teens and twenties? Are you inventing as you’re going along?
There’s these people who are touchstones for what I want to achieve or where I want to be. I think of Tom Hanks.
You have been compared to—
I know, which makes me—it moves my mind every day. [Laughs.]
The Second City path was the path that I saw, like, I can achieve this. And then from there “S.N.L.” was a path. I was, like, All right, well, this is my goal. But I didn’t get that. The road diverges, infinitely.
Yes. Yes, let’s do this. Let’s make Sam Richardson the new Tom Hanks. A few good comedies, a few Oscars, a general vibe where everyone is like “oh, nice, I love that guy” whenever they see him. I think that would be cool. As long he as he keeps popping up in ITYSL sketches after he’s a mega-famous Oscar winner. These are my conditions.
ITEM NUMBER FOUR — An important note about Top Gun: Maverick
I saw Top Gun: Maverick last weekend, like everybody else. It was great. It was unnecessary, mostly, and kind of funny how Tom Cruise was like “no, I will not be passing the torch to anyone else, I will instead steal a fighter jet and save the day myself once again,” but mostly it was just a blast. It was nice to see a big loud movie about planes going WHOOOOSH in a theater again.
About that: As regular readers know, I use a wheelchair as a result of a spinal cord injury like 15 years ago. This means a lot of things but, for our purposes here, it means that I sit in the section of the movie theater that is accessible for my chair. Which, at the theater I was at, was in the back, next to other people who need accessible seating, including one older dude who was wearing one of those navy blue USS SOMETHING hats with the stars on them. He talked to his wife throughout the whole movie. I loved him very much.
There’s a point in the movie — I’ll try not to spoil anything — where one character crashes and we see him on the ground for a while and don’t know if he’s dead or alive. This is where the old dude turned to his wife and said…
“Watch, he’s gonna open his eyes.”
And then when the character opened his eyes moments later…
“I could have written this movie.”
I am so happy movie theaters are back. I want to see every movie with this guy now. My only regret is that I should have asked him for his contact info. He and I could have started a podcast. I would be so rich.
ITEM NUMBER FIVE — I will read any story about Prince
There’s this comedy roundtable over at The Hollywood Reporter this week. It’s fun. They got Jerrod Carmichael and Will Forte and Danny McBride and Bowen Yang and Michael Che and Jake Johnson to sit around and blabber about jokes. I enjoyed reading it a lot. There’s a little interaction about narcissism between Will Forte and Bowen Yang that made me laugh out loud at my laptop like a crazy person.
There is also a chunk of it where Jake Johnson talks about the time Prince appeared on New Girl. This is good because I really like both Jake Johnson and stories about Prince. Prince was one of the all-time Weird Dudes, which I say with love only. I would read an entire book of people just telling Prince stories. I would watch a documentary. I would watch a whole docuseries where every episode features actors and actresses acting out Prince stories, like a cross between Drunk History and the one Chappelle’s Show sketch. This is a good idea. Read this and tell me I’m wrong.
JOHNSON I did a scene in New Girl with Prince, and I get a lot of, “What was he like?”
CHE What was he like?
JOHNSON He was really weird. He had a whole group of people, they were all wearing purple and walked in a single-file line, and when they got to the place we were going, he was announced, “Prince is coming to set,” and everybody got tight, and then they all walked out. He was talking to Zooey Deschanel, and I was waiting for the moment where I say hi, and then he goes, “I’m ready to meet Nick now.” That was my character’s name, so Zooey was like, “This is Nick.”
CHE I miss Nick.
JOHNSON Then we did the scene, and he was a genuinely good actor. And then he didn’t get up. They were relighting, which is about 45 minutes, and if Prince doesn’t get up, I’m not getting up. I was like, “So, you a big [Minnesota] Vikings guy?” And he was. We talked NFC North, and it was unreal.
It is deeply upsetting to me to know that I will never have the chance to sit down with Prince and discuss professional sports. It hurts me in ways I cannot fully articulate. That docuseries I was talking about earlier would help. Please. I’ve been very good.
If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at firstname.lastname@example.org (put “RUNDOWN” in the subject line). I am the first writer to ever answer reader mail in a column. Do not look up this up.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what they’re going to do with the Fast & Furious franchise after FAST11outof10Furiouses. Here’s my pitch: turn the franchise into an anthology film series, with incredibly different directors taking the helm for each individual installment.
Wes Anderson’s Fast & The Furious
Lars Von Trier’s Fast & Furious
David Cronenberg’s Fast & Furious
Chloe Zhao’s Fast & Furious
Seven Bucks Productions’ Fast & Furious
WERNER HERZOG’s Fast & Furious
Who are some directors you would want to see take over?
Dylan, this question is so good. As are the suggestions. I would pay something like $49.99 to see Werner Herzog’s take on the Fast universe. I would pay double for just the audio files of him and Vin Diesel discussing it. I’ll go higher if I have to.
I have two answers here, one serious and one kind of serious:
Steven Soderbergh — Yes, yes I would like to see how the guy responsible for the Ocean’s movies and Out of Sight and Logan Lucky would handle an international crew of street racers who are now unlicensed government agents and have done battle with both a renegade submarine and the law of gravity.
The Lonely Island — Consider: Popstar but for the Fast & Furious movies. There are songs now. Ludacris finally gets to rap in character. Jason Statham also raps. I am so happy I got to type that last sentence.
There are others but let’s start here.
AND NOW, THE NEWS
Luke Sundberg and three of his friends were in line inside the Louvre in Paris on Sunday, waiting to pose for a photo in front of the Mona Lisa, when they heard gasps.
A man dressed as a woman had sprung from a wheelchair and ducked under a rope barrier separating the painting from the crowd of about 100 people.
This is already the best story I’ve ever read.
The visitors watched in disbelief as he began pounding on the glass that shields the painting. Then, Mr. Sundberg said, the man smeared what appeared to be cake all over the glass protecting what is one of the world’s most recognizable pieces of art.
I get it.
Whip some cake at the Mona Lisa.
We’ve all thought about it.
The Louvre said in a statement that officials with the museum had followed its usual procedures for people with reduced mobility, “allowing them to admire this major work of the Louvre.”
Once he was near the painting, the man threw the pastry that he had hidden, the museum said.
Okay, so there are two things I need to say here and both of them are important. The first is that you should not pretend to be disabled for the purpose of committing crimes, or for another reason, if only because it means people like me who are actually disabled are the ones who will face the consequences of it all down the road. Please consider this going forward.
The second thing is that I think you should be allowed to whip cake at famous works of art. They’re behind glass. It’ll be fine. Let people do it for an hour or two a week. Charge $100 admission and $20 for a piece of cake. Whip it at some piece of abstract art and see if anyone notices. Maybe it’ll end up improving it all a little bit. You don’t know.
The main thing I’m getting at here is that I should not be in charge of a museum.