One of the most satisfying magazine reads I've had lately is in the annual Hollywood issue of Vanity Fair ... which is kind of odd, because the subject, British comedian Steve Coogan, is hardly Hollywood material. In fact, that's the very point of David Kamp's excellent profile; Coogan, despite two decades of solid fame in the U.K., is far from a known quanity on the other side of the Atlantic, despite having great fans in the comedy business.
Coogan emerges in the piece as having a hefty chip on his shoulder , yet is funny enough to remain charming ... sometimes at the same time. Example: he bristles, comically, while noting he must be the only British actor not to have been cast in the Harry Potter movies. (And, yes, he has the face for it.)
The article focuses on Coogan's involvement in the hacking scandal, and his determination to see the fight against News Corp. through. As it turns out, Coogan gave up on his resolve to not settle after the issue went to press; Kamp updates that element here, on the VF blog.
I think Steve Coogan is a genius, and a comic treasure: he can do finely tuned monologues, zingers, impersonations and, yes, actual acting.
As noted in the Vanity Fair piece, here's a true gem: an excerpt from Coogan's series The Trip, in which he and Rob Brydon compete for the bragging rights for the better, or precise, impersonation of Michael Caine.
The article, incidentally, focuses quite a bit on Alan Partridge, who has been a key part, maybe the defining part, of Coogan's comedy from the start. I was amused to learn that Coogan is planning to revive the blandly obnoxious host for a movie.
Here's how Kamp described Partridge's introduction (also noting, I must add, the funniest family motto of them all) in Knowing Me, Knowing You With Alan Partridge:
Indeed, in Episode One, Partridge bounded onto his set—“modeled on the lobby of a top international hotel,” he claimed—with his tackiness fully formed, right down to his soon-to-be-signature ill-fitting double-breasted blazer. (He wore it in burgundy on opening night, but would later unveil a billiard-green version that came with a crest on the breast pocket that included images of a partridge, a pear tree, a microphone, and the words cognoscens me cognoscens te aha.) “Tonight is what I call a J.F.K. kind of a night,” Partridge announced with bravado and good cheer. “Because just as everyone can remember what they were doing when President Kennedy was shot in the head, I like to think that, 30 years from now, people will remember what they were doing when I first said, ‘A-ha!’ ”
And here, as a refresher, is the real thing. Aha!