Magazine May 3, 2010, Issue

The Not-So-Wild Side

Steve Carell and Tina Fey in Date Night (20th Century Fox)

The easiest path to great comedy is to pair a straight man with a wild man. The straight man doesn’t have to play it all that straight: He should be a comedian in his own right, quick with japes and punch lines, with a hint of secret craziness dancing somewhere in his eyes. The wild man’s wildness can be tempered by the occasional note of normalcy: He should be uproariously funny, but he doesn’t have to be a freak. But the basic duality is important. The straight man gives the viewer a surrogate, someone to identify with no matter how

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