Adam McKay on being shitty with kids
It’s time for a WC Fields revival.
Dipsomanic, liar, misanthrope, and the victim of countless petty indignities, mostly at the hands of wives and children, Fields’ eternal frustration with life probably couldn’t feel more apropos in these unlovely times—even though the great American comic died in 1946.
Adam McKay agrees. We briefly discussed WC Fields when the Anchorman 2 writer-director—he’s also responsible for the Will Ferrell comedies Step Brothers and The Other Guys—spoke with the Straight last week.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues opens on Wednesday (December 18).
Georgia Straight: Who were the comics that really turned you on in your youth? Were you interested in Keaton, the Marx Brothers, WC Fields?
Adam McKay: You’re literally naming one of my all-time favourites. WC Fields I think is one of the funniest comics of all time. In fact, of all the old style comics, he’s the one that to this day, I will still laugh at his stuff. We’re talking about 80 years ago and his stuff is still funny. It’s amazing.
Fields feels particularly appropriate to this era; it’s so bleak and cynical.
So cynical, and any character that is shitty with kids—how can that not be funny, now? You look at Danny McBride with Eastbound & Down [McKay is the executive producer], how awful he is to kids throughout that show, that is the direct ancestor of WC Fields. You wanna hear the coolest thing? I don’t have many collectibles, but some friends of mine gave me a WC Fields shot glass. You know, he used to walk around with, like, a man valet who’d carry a bottle of whiskey on a tray with a shot glass at all times. And a friend of mine found a shot glass with this certificate of authenticity, the story of how they got it, and I actually have his shot glass.
I know! For years that kept his craven alcoholism and hilarity going. Isn’t that cool?