Crazy On You

It’s not going too far to believe that Harland Williams might be certifiably insane. If you’ve ever caught his antics on film – say in Something About Mary, Half-Baked, or Employee of the Month – you’d at least think some of his wiring is totally crossed. But just like Leeroy Jenkins, Williams could never tell you if he actually is serious or just playing nuts – it would ruin the joke. His only answer to the question: “Ask the other inmates.”

We got Williams on the horn from his L.A. home, where he told us a bit about other personal lore, such as his scene as “the Hitchhiker” in Something About Mary. “I feel lucky. It’s like writing a hit song to make such a classic moment in a movie,” says Williams. “That whole scene is probably 60% improvised, but it’s amazing what sticks.” Does that mean Williams is closer in persona to the 7-minute-abs-pumping hitcher than he’d like to admit? “Yes, man! The bodies are in the basement!”

Being a bit out there might seem like it comes easy for Williams as well, but he’s worked non-stop for 30 years now, perfecting his craft. Actually, that’s crafts – aside from making hundreds of appearances in TV and film, Williams has his own line of children’s books, hosts a radio show, makes music with his cousin from Barenaked Ladies, and has worked as an accomplish painter since he was in his teens. “I was a busy guy. I came out of college fired up to make stuff happen,” he explains. “I would paint in the day and go downtown to do my gig at the comedy club at night. I just felt like the whole world was in front of me, and I kept thinking, ‘Wow, what’s going to happen?’” Unlike Williams’ other mysteries, we know what happened: He became one of the most cherished entertainers of his generation. Tonight he hits the Improv Paradise Live (5700 Seminole Way, Hollywood) for a weekend stint. Tickets cost $21. Call 954-981-5653, or visit
Fri., Feb. 15; Sat., Feb. 16; Sun., Feb. 17, 2008

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John Linn