Required Viewing: Zach Galifianakis

Two of the films that are released on DVD today, the raunchy R-rated comedy The Hangover and Disney’s family friendly G-Force, couldn’t be more different from each other, and yet they both have one thing in common… comedian Zach Galifianakis.

The first time I ever took notice of Zach Galifianakis, he was performing his original style of stand-up comedy on an episode of Late Night with Conan O’Brien back in 2001 or 2002. I knew instantly that he was one of the funniest comedians that I had ever seen, and he would probably one day become a huge star. That finally happened when The Hangover was released in theaters earlier this year. Many people had probably never appreciated him before that, even though he’s been making his way through TV shows (Boston Common, Tru Calling, Late World With Zach) and mediocre films (Bubble Boy, Out Cold) for years now. Better film roles have been coming recently, including bit parts in Into The Wild and Up In The Air.

Here is my list of Required Viewing for Zach Galifianakis:

The Hangover (2009) – Film, now on DVD

You can’t have a list of Zach’s best work without mentioning his breakout performance as pantsless Alan Garner in this past summer’s biggest comedy. In fact, it wasn’t only the summer’s biggest comedy, it also went on to become the highest grossing R-Rated comedy of all time. I actually saw this in Vegas while I was there this summer, which definitely added to the experience.

Visioneers (2008) – Film, available on DVD

Zach stars as George Washington Winsterhammerman, a descendent of George Washington. George is stuck in a dead-end job working for The Jeffers Corporation, in a world where the middle finger is the most acceptable greeting, and people explode when they get stressed out. My wife and I had been looking forward to this when we first saw the trailer, and got to see it at a film festival in L.A. last year. The film, which also stars Judy Greer, is one of most interesting films I’ve seen in awhile. After a failed attempt to get it picked up for a proper theatrical release, the film was released on DVD this year.

Bored To Death (2009) – HBO television series

Bored To Death just recently finished its first season on HBO. The show stars Jason Schwartzman as Jonathan Ames (also the show’s creator), a struggling writer who decides to take a break from writing and become a private detective. The show started a little slow for me, but got better with every episode thanks to the wonderful supporting cast, including Ted Danson as Jonathan’s boss, and Zach as his friend Ray, a comic book artist. The show has been picked up for a second season, which probably won’t air until next fall, so try to catch it in repeats, or on the eventual DVD release, if you can.

Live At The Purple Onion (2007) – Stand Up Comedy DVD

Finally if you truly want to see Zach in his element, check out this DVD from 2007, which showcases his unique brand of stand-up and piano-accompanied comedy. The DVD includes a full stand-up performance filmed at The Purple Onion in San Francisco, California. Also included is a hilarious interview with Zach’s “twin brother” Seth Galifianakis. This should still be available to buy, or to rent through Netflix.

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