5 Big-Time Goofballs Who Really Wanted to Be Taken Seriously

5 Big-Time Goofballs Who Really Wanted to Be Taken Seriously

As the famous joke goes, man visits doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says, “Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.” Man says, “Sounds great, will do.” But then, when he goes to the show, Pagliacci instead gives a two-hour lecture on the importance of morality in comedy and it fucking sucks.

If that isn’t enough, here are five other goofballs who really wanted to be taken seriously...

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Johnny Knoxville

Gage Skidmore

Maybe the most iconic Wayfarer wearer since JFK.

When somebody could legitimately be crowned “the king of the nut shot,” it sends a decidedly unserious vibe. For years, Johnny Knoxville was best known as the ringleader of traumatic physical comedy troupe Jackass. There might not be, outside of sports, a single person on Earth that more people have seen injure themselves publicly than Knoxville. It’s a role he doesn’t seem to have much a problem with, having been a stalwart member throughout, but it wasn’t always his intention.

Before Jackass, and before the videos for Big Brother that kicked off the show itself, Knoxville moved to L.A. to become an actor. He was pretty serious about it too, not just showing up with a smile and an overpacked suitcase, but attending the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Maybe they’ll invite him back someday to teach a seminar on how to portray a full range of emotion while drinking bull semen. Though maybe not the serious roles he’d hoped for, it did end up working out for him, as Jackass gave him the notoriety to eventually land acting roles on his own, like in Men in Black II.

Jason Alexander


His role on Criminal Minds didnt help things either.

Becoming the face of an internationally iconic character certainly isn’t something any actor would shake a stick at. Yet, as people like the Verizon “Can You Hear Me Now?” guy have learned, it’s not without its downsides. Of course, being a cell-phone shill isn’t nearly as creatively satisfying or prestigious as a star of one of the greatest sitcoms of all time, but both can end up pigeonholing an actor.

Before he threw on the iconic glasses and neuroses of George Costanza, Jason Alexander’s acting pursuits were still New York centric, just of a much different crowd: Broadway. These weren’t bit parts or lacking in success, either. You might not know that a year before Seinfeld premiered, Alexander actually won a Tony for his performance in Jerome Robbins’ Broadway. It’s not like he hasn’t been cast in other roles since, and I’m sure he doesn’t mind the residuals, but everyone’s unshakable mental image of George Costanza tends to leak into whatever character he tries to portray now.

Vin Diesel

Gage Skidmore

“Please stop asking if I think Im a car.”

So far, the goofball rep has been, at least, initially voluntary. They might not have been able to predict the level to which it would take over their life, but they signed on the dotted line to be a source of comedy. Somebody who’s achieved that rep seemingly without their permission and possibly without full understanding is Vin Diesel. Nothing in particular about Diesel’s filmography suggests the strange, outsized role he serves in popular culture.

It instead seems to be a fate born of just being a genuinely weird dude. Diesel looks like no one else on earth, and acts in such a particular way that he became a caricature of himself. It’s a loving one, to be sure, as the internet celebrates him, but at the same time, it has to be a little frustrating to be unable to even do a cinema ad without it immediately becoming an SNL sketch. He’s forever locked as maybe the mascot of the hugely successful Fast and the Furious series of movies, but the image of him at the Academy Awards podium is probably funny even to his fans.

Nicolas Cage

Guillaume Paumier

Its not a coincidence that most of these photos are from comic conventions.

If we’re going to discuss actors-turned-memes, we can’t avoid maybe the most iconic of all: Nicolas Cage. Despite becoming a (loving) punchline to the point where he’s plastered on novelty pillows, Cage has never fully cottoned to his meme status. We can safely say that he bears a little more fault than Vin Diesel, though. Where Diesel is mostly an enigma off-screen, Cage has lived his life openly in the public eye, where we can see every one of his joyously weird fascinations and decisions.

When you buy a giant dinosaur skull, do somersaults and karate kicks pre-interview and build yourself a pyramid-shaped tomb, people are going to tune in. At the same time, Cage has been able to keep at least some artistic integrity. After all, it’s not like his trophy shelf is empty, housing an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award. But through all of that, he’s been unable to shake his reputation as a weirdo, and the easiest explanation at this point is: He is, in fact, a huge weirdo.

Professor Frink


Why does no one value me as a scientific mind, GLAVEN!?

The man is a SCIENTIST! Hes working tirelessly to change the progression of human life! Just because a man spends his time developing hamburger earmuffs and has an unusual speaking voice, hes to be looked at derisively? Admit it, you cowards are simply terrified of change. Well see what your tune is when your house is burgled, and its completely unable to run around the corner to safety.

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