How the Ivy League dropout and famous actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt stripped, face burst balloons and won Harvard over.
It is not everyday that an actor of renown sucks a cow’s teats on stage. Even less often does the same actor publicly strip down to his skivvies.
But these are just glimpses of what went down this past Saturday evening at the Hasty Pudding Theatricals’ annual Man of the Year roast in Farkas Hall. Prominent actor and filmmaker Joseph Gordon-Levitt was in attendance as the Pudding’s 2016 Man of the Year.
The Pudding’s Man of the Year is a nearly 50-year-old tradition, stretching back to 1967 when actor Bob Hope became the first recipient of the distinction.
The Hasty Pudding Theatricals, an on-campus theatrical group comprised entirely of cross-dressing male undergraduates, planned and participated in the roast that was open to the general public by ticket. A roast is an event where a person of honor is subjected to good-natured ridicule.
The roast, hosted by Kennedy Edmonds ‘17 and Lily Yarbrough ‘17, started with well meaning jibes targeted at Levitt and increasingly descending into a series of ‘challenges’ that the actor had to undertake. While one such challenge called on Levitt seducing a supposed Russian porn star, another required him to don the Robin costume over his immaculate tuxedo.
The climax of the evening came when Levitt spontaneously leapt off the stage into the meandering aisles of Farkas Hall, and ran amok amongst a crowd of electrified fans – at one point, even letting himself fall only to be caught by the worshipping crowds.
The series of challenges concluded with Levitt singing about the ten things he hated about himself. The actor, as everyone soon found out, is not the worst of singers. As a reward for having overcome the daunting gauntlet thrown at him, Levitt was presented the Pudding Pot, a uniquely Hasty Pudding way of honoring its honorees.
The roast was followed by a press conference, where Levitt broached a range of topics from fatherhood to cinematic pornography. Levitt, whose 2013 movie Don Jon explored the issue of porn addiction, said that experimentation was the entire point of film. He also spoke at length of the need to follow one’s own passions – he himself dropped out of Columbia after getting disillusioned with the straitjacketed finance and consulting career paths taken on by his diversely talented classmates.
However, the actor clearly felt uncomfortable addressing the issue of alleged racism at the Oscars. He seemed to entirely evade the question, saying that it was all a part of a larger national problem that deserved closer inspection.
The roast was a prelude to the Hasty Pudding Theatrical’s 168th annual production, That 70’s Show. The show will open to the general public on Tuesday, February 6th and will run Tuesdays through Sundays from February 6th to March 6th at Farkas Hall, in addition to touring New York City and Bermuda.
Aditya Agrawal ’17 ([email protected]) looks forward to Mr. Levitt’s future works.