Thursday, May 25, 2017

Team Work

When show biz duos break up, they often claim they're still friends.  Still, don't they keep score to see who's doing better?

One of the biggest breakups ever was Martin and Lewis, who ruled show biz from 1946 to 1956.  Jerry Lewis was generally considered the big talent, while Dean Martin a decent straight man and singer.  But after the split, Dean more than held his own--in fact, he probably out-performed his old pal Jer in the long run, becoming a major movie star, TV star and recording star, still on top after Jerry's film career had petered out. (Though Lewis did do everything on his films--acting, writing, directing--creating something that was unique.)

A more recent case is the comedy team of Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie.  Their show A Bit Of Fry And Laurie spread out four season from 1987 to 1995, and they worked together on other projects.  But since those days, while both have done fine, I don't think there's much doubt Laurie became the bigger star.  His lead work on the hit series House alone, for which he was nominated for numerous Emmy and Golden Globes, got him more attention and, I'm certain, a lot more money, than anything Fry has done.

A closer case is David Cross and Bob Odenkirk, creators of Mr. Show, which ran from 1995 to 1998.  Since then, Cross has done stand-up and appeared in numerous TV shows and movies.  He played Tobias Funke in the highly-regarded Arrested Development, as well as creating his own series The Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret.  An impressive resume, but Odenkirk may just have him beat.  It took him a little longer to really get going, but when he did, it was in the role of a lifetime--Saul Goodman, first appearing as a regular on Breaking Bad, and now starring in his own show, Better Call Saul.

The most recent case I can think of is Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele. Their sketch comedy show, Key And Peele, ran from 2012 to 2015 and got them a lot of positive notices.  Since then, they did a movie together, Keanu--not a hit.  Meanwhile, Key has done okay for himself, appearing in movies like Don't Think Twice and Why Him?, but hasn't really broken out.  And now, Peele has hit it big--not as an actor, but as a writer-director.  His low-budget horror film, Get Out, has become a blockbuster.  We'll see how he follows up, but for now, he seems to be leading the race.


Anonymous Denver Guy said...

Okay, now I want to get a feel for the other big duos.

Seems like Bing Crosby and Bob Hope were pretty even, though of course Hope lived much longer (so probably collected more life-time achievement awards). Crosby probably made a lot more money from his records.

Chong has more of an after-career than Cheech.

Jemaine Clement is a main character on "Legion," but I may not be aware of Bret McKenzie's activities since "Flight of the Conchords."

Simon Pegg obviously has a broader following than Nick Frost, but I don't think you could say their duo has split up, since they keep coming back every few years for new projects.

And I don't know that Penn and Teller have ever done anything separately, or ever will.

2:53 PM, May 25, 2017  
Blogger LAGuy said...

I don't know if some of these examples apply. I'm talking about people who became famous as part of a team and then split up.

Hope/Crosby weren't primarily known as a team at any time in their careers, like Laurel/Hardy, Abbott/Costello or Martin/Lewis. They were both stars who made it big before working together and continued doing their own stuff in-between the Road pictures. (They were arguably the top two entertainers of the twentieth century, but that's a separate issue.)

Simon Pegg has always struck me as the main guy, a star who creates his own projects and who has graciously allowed Nick Frost to be in them. (Closer but comparable would be Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.)

I am surprised to see you claim Chong has done better than Cheech. In fact, I assume that's a typo. The only thing Chong has beaten Cheech at is spending time behind bars.

As an actor, Jemaine Clement has had a far more significant career than Bret McKenzie. On the other hand, Bret won an Oscar for Best Original Song.

Penn and Teller have both been involved in individual projects, but haven't split and are still best known as a team. (Penn acts more on his own, but you'd expect that.)

5:06 PM, May 25, 2017  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

That's a special bit of wickedness in that Dean Martin photo, LAG. Well done.

6:13 PM, May 25, 2017  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

Yup typo - switched Cheech for Chong. I wish there was an edit feature here.

5:07 AM, May 26, 2017  

Post a Comment

<< Home

web page hit counter