One of the most versatile members of SNL in an era when that genuinely meant something. Mike Myers held his own alongside stars like Chris Farley and Phil Hartman, winning fans over with his ability to play just about any character you threw at him. Sure, some of them were, well... fucking annoying ("Hey, did you guys hear? The Coffee Talk Lady likes Barbara Streisand!"); but the Wayne's World sketches had their moments, and its big screen adaptation remains one of the finest SNL films to date (not saying much, sure, but still).
Myers was always at his best when he wasn't putting on some crazy get up and doing wacky accents. Like Will Ferrell after him, he was a likable team player who gave 100% even in bit parts, turning one-joke premises into memorable classics.
An actor mincing around in a cat costume terrifying children. And while the last half of that sentence is an admirable career goal, one could argue that you hardly need to embarrass yourself with a cat costume when a loaded gun could achieve the same result.
If you took all of Myers's most annoying characters from his days on SNL, put them in a blender, poured the resulting acidic stomach bile into an ice cube tray, stuffed the resulting ice cubes into a sock and beat your mother to death with it until the sock was soft and dripping, you'd have no real idea what Myers's career has become, but you would probably be wanted by the police.
Evidently, Myers has a clause in his contract stating that he will not appear in front of the camera unless outfitted with at least 30 pounds of prosthetics and makeup. The last time he appeared in a comedy without a zany get-up plastered across his face? 1993.
Many would point to Myers playing the Cat in the Hat, his attempt at a dramatic turn in Studio 54 or even his romantic comedy So I Married an Axe Murderer as the pivotal shark-jumping point in Myers's career. But no. The first real danger sign was apparent as early as Wayne's World 2, when Myers first exhibited his willingness to blatantly retread jokes as many times as someone'd be willing to pay him to.
Wayne's World 2, the first of many unnecessary sequels from Myers, was essentially Wayne's World 1 but without the... no, actually, let me rephrase that. It was Wayne's World 1. They might have used the Search and Replace function in Microsoft Word to change around a few nouns, but otherwise, you could probably watch both movies back to back while stoned to get a "Dark Side of the Moon syncs up with The Wizard of Oz" effect going.
But Wayne's World 2 ended up being a mere prelude to Myers's whoring of his other opus, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. A genuinely charming and funny film in its own right, Powers ended up spawning two bloated big-budget sequels, each of them making ten powzillion times as much money as the original without coming up with one original new gag in their collected four hour running time.
Strangely enough, Myers's awkward squirm following Kanye West's declaration that "George Bush doesn't care about black people" reminded us of how great he once was. Years before, in one of his finest sketches on SNL, he played a pasta maker salesman trying to hide from the infomercial camera as Heather Locklear denied the Holocaust and called Mexican people lazy. As Myers squirmed on stage next to Kanye West last year, we came to the sickening realization that this was by far the funniest thing that he had done in six years.
The best we can hope for now is that that the unintentional hilarity of that awkward moment awakened in Myers some long dormant memory of where true comedy comes from, and spurs a career revival.