TV

It’s Been A Good Week To Be Sam Richardson (And A Sam Richardson Fan)

Late in Werewolves Within, a new indie horror-comedy about a group of small-town residents who are being terrorized by a mysterious creature during a snowstorm, forest ranger Finn Wheeler, played by Sam Richardson, gives a monologue about why he’s a decent human being. “I’m a nice person, alright? I’m considerate. I’m compassionate. I care. People want me to change, but there’s nothing wrong with me,” he says. “I’m a nice person who wants to do nice things for other people and have nice people do things for other people, you know? Sorry, I got to tell you, it’s f*cking OK to be nice.”

I have never met Sam Richardson and it’s dangerous to assume you know what a famous person is like in real life. That being said, he seems like a good dude who wants to do nice things for other people. He’s certainly brought a lot of joy to my life, from playing Richard Splett on Veep to co-starring with Tim Robinson on Comedy Central’s delightfully silly Detroiters to voicing Dr. Champ on BoJack Horseman to his prolific July.

Here’s what he’s been up to over the past week.

July 1

Richardson made his second guest appearance on the funniest podcast in the game, Doughboys. The fast food and chain restaurant review show is hosted by Nick Wiger and Mike Mitchell, Richardson’s co-star in The Tomorrow War. In his first episode, recorded when they were filming the movie in Atlanta, he reviewed Krystal (2.5 out of 5 forks). This time, he went to Burger King — it was a 4.5 forks experience. You can tell it’s going to be a good episode when Mitch is embarrassed doing his trademark “howdy ho” (which he, and not an animated character, came up with it) and the guest starts talking and giggling before they’re even introduced. “Burger King 5 with Sam Richardson” succeeds on both fronts. The interview with Chris Pratt is the cherry (Coke Zero) on top.

July 2

Werewolves Within came out in theaters on June 25, where it was greeted with positive reviews, followed by a VOD release on July 2. It’s a fun murder-mystery to see with a group of strangers, but it’s also a good choice for a movie night with friends at home. Werewolves has “cult favorite” written all over it with an impressive cast, including Milana Vayntrub (Lily from the AT&T commercials), Harvey Guillén (Guillermo from What We Do in the Shadows), Michaela Watkins (too many credits to list just one), and Catherine Curtin (Orange is the New Black). But this is Richardson’s film — it’s a rare, long-overdue leading role for a comedy ensemble mainstay. He brings his trademark fast-talking nervousness to the part, but Mishna Wolff’s screenplay gives him hero moments too. Everyone should watch Werewolves Within, but especially a romantic-comedy casting director, because Richardson and Vayntrub have sparkling chemistry.

July 2

The Tomorrow War is a $200 million “big, dumb, beautiful” science-fiction action movie that’s a whole lot of fun. It’s nice to have a summer blockbuster that’s not based on an existing property — it’s even nicer that the cast is filled with comedy performers who know how to sell an unintentionally goofy line, like Chris Pratt, Mike Mitchell, Betty Gilpin, Mary Lynn Rajskub, J.K. Simmons, and Richardson. As the in-over-his-head comedic relief who holds his gun wrong and screams “sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t” when being attacked by alien monsters, he’s the closest thing that The Tomorrow War has to an audience surrogate. This character type can quickly become grating (Ludwig Dieter in Army of the Dead isn’t nearly as funny as Zack Snyder thinks he is), but Richardson never overplays the broad comedy; he’s consistently amusing and the film’s clear MVP.

July 6

The much-anticipated second season of I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson dropped on Netflix at 3:00 a.m. EST this morning. I have not had a chance to watch it yet, but I would like to make a prediction: Sam Richardson will be in one of the season’s best absurdist sketches. Granted, this isn’t much of a hot take, as creator Tim Robinson’s real-life buddy was in one of season one’s most instantly-iconic moments.

Do you think a week goes by where someone doesn’t yell “FUCK YOU, HARLEY JARVIS” at him? I don’t. Anyway, outside of “Baby of the Year,” Robinson also played the Ghost of Christmas Way Future in the two-part “The Night Scrooge Saved Christmas” sketch. He’s back for season two, and even appeared in a promo for the new batch of episodes where he sings “Friday Night” with Phredley Brown and his Detroiters co-star.

It’s wonderful, just like their friendship.

“I feel the world is without optimism, especially in entertainment,” Richardson once told the Guardian. “Things are always bleak and sad, and everybody is so pessimistic. I love and appreciate characters and worlds that are optimistic and sweet.” Richardson doesn’t only play nice guys — he’s a “nice” guy in the Best Picture nominee Promising Young Woman — but guys who seem like nice hangs are where he does much of his best work.

After all, it’s f*cking OK to be nice. Just not to birds.

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