It's hard to make an awards show conducted via Zoom feel genuinely unpredictable, aside from being left accidentally on mute – but Jason Sudeikis' shock at winning Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy series for Ted Lasso made up for it. The show stars the comedy actor as an American football coach brought on to manage the fictional English Premier League soccer team AFC Richmond – finding himself seriously out of his depth. Despite the absurd concept, it's genuinely well-written, touching and charming.
Dressed in a tie-dye hoodie, Sudeikis made his first woozy appearance during Norman Lear's lifetime achievement, Carol Burnett award speech mouthing with incredulity: "He's 99? Wow!".
When Sudeikis' own name was read out, he giggles and tells someone off-camera "You can't swear!", though they do it anyway, whispering: "Fuck yeah! Jason! Yes". Immediately, the Twittersphere engaged in a game of "Is he high, or is it just really late wherever he's Zooming from?", and it felt a lot closer to the former.
Sudeikis barely knew where to start in his speech, alternating between "That's nuts" and "That's crazy" for a minute amongst ums and ahs, while fellow nominee Ramy Youssef bit his nails watching. Sudeikis essentially verbalises his stoned inner-monologue as he attempts to cohere it into anything meaningful: "Okay, alright, wow! Here's what I'll say. I'll say this. Everybody that works on the show. I read this book to my son Otis".
In a case of plastered intellectual overcompensation, Sudeikis begins to quote Leo Tolstoy's classic short story The Three Questions – except he gets them entirely wrong. The real questions are: What is the right time to begin something? Which people should he listen to? What is the most important thing for him to do?
Sudeikis' three questions? "When's the best time to do things...When's the right thing to do….uh, no [I mean] What's the right thing to do...and who is the most important one?". His misquoted version of the last question then becomes the basis for thanking the cast of his show and also somewhat rejecting the award – the most important person for Sudeikis is whoever you are with.
"I reject the premise of being Best Actor because the best actor is the person you're acting with. I wanna give this as a...shoutout to all the people I get to act with on the show, 'cause they're incredible. Do they make me the best? No, but I know for a fact that they make me better," he says.
"Better than I am, better than I thought I could be….better than...you know."
At this point, Don Cheadle – nominated for Black Monday – gives a good-natured hand signal for Sudeikis to wrap it up.
"Don's right. I gotta wrap this puppy up. Never been my forte. Little windy, little windy – as my Aunt Loretta would say," Sudeikis laughs.
It was a moment of unfeigned levity for an unlikely show, and an unlikely red carpet award-winner.
Written by Josh Martin, a Melbourne-based freelance music and media writer with words in MTV Australia, NME, Junkee, Crikey, etc. Follow him on Twitter @joshmartjourn.
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