Better Call Saul: When Comedians Do Drama

In honor of Key and Peele's 'Fargo' appearance

  • After just ten episodes of darkness, intensity and a whole lot of violence, the Fargo mini-series wrapped up last night.

    While I won’t give anything away about the finale, I will say the show had some surprising highlights throughout its ten-episode run. But perhaps the most paradoxical element of the show wasn’t its mix of horrific violence and Middle America whimsy, but the appearance of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele — better known from Comedy Central’s Key and Peele — for four episodes as FBI Agents Pepper and Budge. The fact they showed up was shocking, but that they didn’t derail the super-serious tone of the show was downright astounding. Perhaps we should have seen it coming when Bob Odenkirk of Mr. Show starred in the pilot, but then again, we’ve been so accustomed to watching him as the comedic relief in Breaking Bad that he hardly raises a macabre eyebrow amidst the dark mayhem.

    In honor of both the well-received mini-series’ conclusion and Mr. Key and Mr. Peele’s off-beat inclusion, I decided to look back on the times that actors best known for comedy made the jump to drama. It’s sometimes incongruous but occasionally — like in Fargo — brilliant. Without fail, however, it always invokes the same immediate response.

    “Hey, it’s that guy!” 

  • Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman on Breaking Bad

  • For years before Breaking Bad, Bob Odenkirk was a writer for numerous Adult Swim shows and Saturday Night Live and Conan O'Brien. Also, when he appeared on-screen he did stuff like this.

  • Eddie Izzard as Dr. Abel Gideon on Hannibal.

  • Mr. Izzard made a name for himself as a stand-up comedian. Occasionally, he'd wear a dress. His short-lived FX show The Riches hinted at his more dramatic impulses, as did his role in Velvet Goldmine.

  • Zosia Mamet as Joyce Ramsay on Mad Men.

  • Of course Mrs. Mamet is better known now as Shoshanna from Girls.

  • Patrick Kuby and Huelle Babineaux from Breaking Bad.

  • played by comedians Bill Burr....

  • ....and Lavell Crawford.

  • Mark Addy as King Robert Baratheon in Game of Thrones.

  • Mr. Addy starred in the sitcom Still Standing for four years. Also, as you can see, he was at one time Fred Flinstone.

  • Kal Penn as Ahmed Amar on 24. And then he committed suicide on House.

  • Fond memories of when Kumar from 'Harold and Kumar go to White Castle' held a family hostage and pointed a gun at Jack Bauer.

  • Nick Offerman as Tom Mason in Deadwood.

  • To look back and watch that episode of Deadwood now all I can think is that Ron Swanson would never cry like that.

  • Paul Kaye as Thoros of Myr in Game of Thrones.

  • Paul Kaye started out with an MTV show called Strutter, on which he played New Jersey lawyer Mike Strutter, who had a fondness for the word cock-sucker.

  • Laura Prepon as Alex Vause in Orange is the New Black.

  • Donna Pinciotti from That 70's Show sold way less drugs and had 100% less lesbian sex.

  • Bryan Cranston as Walter White in Breaking Bad.

  • Blasphemy, I know. Bryan Cranston is the greatest actor to ever act ever and oh here's a picture of him as Hal in Malcolm in the Middle.

  • Adam Levine as Leo in American Horror Story: Asylum.