I’ve always considered Will Ferrell and Bill Murray to be kindred spirits of sorts. Granted, their original rises to fame came decades apart from each other. But overall, their career arcs have taken similar paths.
First, they both made names for themselves on Saturday Night Live, with Murray becoming one of the show’s first breakout stars in the 1970s (despite not being a member of the original cast), and Ferrell becoming a household name two decades later as a part of one of the show’s numerous rebirths. From there, they both headed to Hollywood to make movies, with varying degrees of success.
At first glance, Murray’s film resume seems to be more successful, but the main reason is because the flops are grossly outnumbered by the hits and the critically lauded options. For nearly 40 years, he has pumped out a steady stream of movies that fans will never stop loving, nor quoting. In fact, even his non-classics are still well received by his diehards. As for Ferrell, he has certainly had his fair share of classics and hits, as well, and you could argue his peak (Old School, Anchorman, and Step Brothers) is on par with Murray’s. However, it’s the handful of duds within his overall body of work that tends to knock him down a peg.
One way in which both men have excelled without fail, though, is their unconnected, but nonetheless dueling campaign for the hearts and minds of the public with their often weird and always awesome public antics. As is the case with the Highlander, though, there can be only one. Which one? Really, it’s a fun question, and, as usual, one that we can answer through science. Or, rather, a grading scale with a list of criteria and scores that are properly weighted and certainly not arbitrarily chosen by me at this very moment.
Based on the examples I’m about to provide, a successful public antic is made possible based on any or all of the following six principles:
- If it took place at a wedding or wedding-related event. (worth two points)
- If the person was wearing silly clothes. (worth three points)
- If they sang. (worth four points)
- If they danced. (worth five points)
- If they were (probably) drunk. (worth five points)
- If the crowd standing nearby enjoyed it. (worth five points)
From there, we can add them all up and come up with a winner. Oh, and just for fun, I’m giving a bonus of 10 points for any event that was spontaneous, and not clearly staged ahead of time.
The case for Murray:
- He crashed a karaoke party (29 points).
- He wore this to the Toronto Film Festival (eight points).
- He absolutely owned this entrance to Cannes (eight points).
- He provided marital advice to a young man at a bachelor party (22 points).
- He hit the golf course wearing PBR pants (18 points).
- He’s not too cool to stand and eat an ice-cream cone with a fan (15 points).
- He jumped out of a cake at an appearance for one of David Letterman’s final tapings (32 points).
- He fell out of a chair during an appearance on MSNBC (20 points).
- He rocked out at a Chris Stapleton concert (32 points).
The case for Ferrell:
- He went on Conan as a sexy leprechaun. (22 points).
- He performed an ice-skating routine (sans ice skates) on The Tonight Show (13 points).
- He did a satirical take of the pregame introductions at a Bulls-Hornets game (10 points).
- He showed up as Little Debbie on The Tonight Show (12 points).
- He rallied the USMNT, then threatened to bite all the German players (23 points).
- He went head to head against Chad Smith of Red Hot Chili Peppers in a drum battle (14 points).
- He gave a wedding toast to two strangers (15 points).
- His lip-sync battle against Jimmy Fallon and Kevin Hart on The Tonight Show put that gimmick on the map (19 points).
- He posed as a security guard at Staples Center and kicked out Shaq (eight points).
- He played 10 positions for 10 different teams during baseball’s spring training for an HBO documentary titled Ferrell Takes the Field (13 points).
- He raced a fan in a 40-yard dash at Trojans Stadium (23 points).
Added together, that’s 184 points for Murray (20.4 average) and 172 for Ferrell (15.6 average). So, it’s clear that Murray is still the master of crazy antics. But Ferrell is making a strong push. Really, the only separation has been that a majority of Murray’s stunts have been spontaneous, while Ferrell’s have mostly been staged. And if not for that stupid 10-point rule I added at the beginning of this exercise, this contest would be a virtual tie. Dammit, science!
Can I go back and change my own rules?