Lighten Up, Alec!

For a guy great at making us laugh, Baldwin tends to take himself a tad seriously

By Jere Hester
|  Tuesday, Dec 1, 2009  |  Updated 1:39 AM EDT
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Alec Baldwin is threatening to take a time out from acting.

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It’s the holiday season – time to order your Schweddy Balls.

If that made you laugh, then you're among the appreciators of the comic talents of Alec Baldwin, who, by keeping a straight face in the classic 1998 "Saturday Night Live" Schweddy Balls sketch, established himself as a master of deadpan humor.

Now Baldwin, who brings his comic gifts to "30 Rock," tells Men's Journal (via the New York Daily News) he plans to quit show business after his contract ends in 2012. He also declares his movie career a "complete failure."

For a guy good at making us laugh, Baldwin tends to take himself awful seriously at times.

Let's hope he was just venting, amid public personal woes that include his infamous and inexplicable haranguing of his daughter in a phone message ("I feel the consequences of that every day," Baldwin told Men’s Journal).

As far as his career, Baldwin's a bit hard on himself – he’s proven a fine film actor over the years, in "Prelude to a Kiss" and "Glenngary Glen Ross," among other flicks.

But his greatest talent seems to reside in comedy, which is nothing to spit take at. His role as pompous network executive Jack Donaghy, who barely believes his own absurdity while delivering one-liners as fast as he can talk, is the foundation of "30 Rock." It would be a shame to lose him.

Maybe Baldwin should have a chat with Steve Martin, the only performer to host "SNL" more times than him. He'll have plenty of opportunity. Baldwin and Martin are co-hosting this year's Oscars, and co-star with Meryl Streep in the upcoming movie, "It's Complicated."

Martin, over a four-decade career, has glided between comedy, drama, books, plays and music. But he always returns to the making us laugh.

As Martin told us, comedy isn't pretty. Or as another sage once said, "Dying is easy – comedy is hard." Baldwin has the hard part down.

Baldwin at 51, understandably, has other interests, including politics (a calling where the humor largely is unintentional).

It may be selfish, but here's hoping he sticks to comedy. After all, how can we get through the holidays without Schweddy Balls?
 

Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.

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