Rowan Sebastian Atkinson CBE
No, well I don't tend to find things funny.
—After being asked if he ever laughed at his own work.
(born January 6, 1955) is an English comedian, actor and writer, famous for his work on the classic sitcoms Blackadder
, The Thin Blue Line
and Mr. Bean
, as well as doing the voice-over for Zazu in The Lion King
and sketch comedy in Not the Nine O'Clock News
. He has also appeared in movies, such as Four Weddings and a Funeral
. He is a master of the Deadpan Snarker
and has a filmography that would make most other actors go green in envy with most of the things on it a major success. A perfectionist to the point of frustration, he is infamous for stopping partway through a take and apologising because he wants to try again.
Behind the scenes, he's a car enthusiast and has been known to take part in auto-racing. In Top Gear
he was once the second fastest "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car"note
. He also has a degree in electrical engineering.
In 2013, he was awarded a CBE, while his Blackadder
co-star Tony Robinson got a knighthood...
Said filmography includes:
He also has a repertoire of stage comedy routines, which include:
- "The Amazing Jesus": A vicar gives a Bible reading that starts out as the traditional story of Jesus turning water into wine, then takes a left turn after the servants beg Jesus to show them another trick.
- "Fatal Beatings": A meeting between a strict headmaster and the parent of a student goes rapidly downhill after the headmaster mentions casually that the student is dead.
- "The Good Loser": An actor is called on to accept an award on behalf of one his colleagues — having just been passed over for the same award himself.
- "No One Called Jones": A schoolmaster calls the roll and hands out punishments and assignments; humor arises from the incongruous names of the students and Atkinson's Comically Serious delivery. Also exists in a "Dirty Words" version, in which all the students' names are rude words, and everything the schoolmaster says becomes a double entendre.
- "Pink Tights and Plenty of Props": A Small Name, Big Ego actor presents a lecture on the characters and plots of Shakespearean drama.
- "A Warm Welcome": A maitre-d'-like devil welcomes the new arrivals to Hell and directs them to their seats. Over the years this one has been modified and updated to suit the audience, the venue, and current events, so if you've heard one version, you have most-likely not heard them all. Originally, one category he mentions is "Americans" but when he performed at a venue in Boston, he instead quipped, "the French, are you here?"
- "With Friends Like These": Three speeches from the wedding from hell — the priest reminisces about giving sex advice to newly-weds, the best man is embarrassingly hapless, and the bride's father hates everybody.
- "A Day In The Life of the Invisible Man"
- "A Final Bash": In which he plays a janitor who tries his hand at a drum solo on an invisible drum kit, with the sound provided by a professional drummer offstage.
These provide examples of:
- Bearer of Bad News: In "Pink Tights and Plenty of Props", along with the Bearer Of Indifferent News, the Bearer Of Bad News That The Messenger Thought Would Be Good News But Didn't Read In Advance And Consequently Got Quite A Shock, and the Bearer Of Really Really Bad News.
- Bitter Wedding Speech: The father of the bride's speech from "With Friends Like These".
: (as father of the bride) Ladies and gentlemen, and friends of my daughter. There comes a time in every wedding reception when the man who paid for the damn thing is allowed to speak a word or two of his own. I would like to take this opportunity, sloshed as I may be, to say a word or two about Martin. As far as I'm concerned, my daughter could not have chosen a more delightful, charming, witty, responsible, wealthy
, let's not deny it, well-placed, good-looking and fertile young man than Martin as her husband. And I therefore ask the question "Why the hell did she marry Gerald instead?
" Because Gerald is the sort of man we used to describe at school as a complete prick
! If I may use a gardening simile here, if his entire family may be likened to a compost heap, and I think they can, then Gerald is the biggest weed growing out of it. I think he's the sort of man people emigrate to avoid. I remember the first time I met Gerald, I said to my wife, she's the lovely woman propping up that horrendous old drunk of a mother of his, "either this man is suffering from serious brain damage or the new vacuum cleaners have arrived." As for his family, they are quite simply the most intolerable herd of steaming social animals that I have ever had the misfortune of turning my nose up to. I spurn you as I would spurn a rabid dog. I would like to propose a toast... to the caterers. And to the pigeon who crapped on the groom's family's limousine at the church. As for the rest of you around this table not directly related to me, you can sod off
. I wouldn't trust any of you to sit the right way on a toilet seat.
- Brick Joke: The frothing mug of ale in "Pink Tights and Plenty of Props", which also leads to the payoff of the Running Gag of the actor hurting his knees when he falls to the floor during his death scenes.
- Comically Missing the Point: The headmaster in "Fatal Beatings" just can't grasp why Perkins' father is so interested in the fact that Perkins is dead.
Are you mad
Headmaster: I'm furious!
- The Comically Serious: It must be seen to be believed.
- Corporal Punishment: "Fatal Beatings"
- Deadpan Snarker
- Dean Bitterman: "Fatal Beatings"; "No One Called Jones"
- Disproportionate Retribution: In "Fatal Beatings", he plays a headmaster who has a boy beaten to death for violating the school's library rules.
- Don't Fear The Reaper: Played with in "A Warm Welcome". The devil - or Toby, as he invites the damned to call him - is quite affable, but still makes it clear that the souls who have just arrived are in for a literal eternity of torment.
- Evil Twin: In "Pink Tights and Plenty of Props", the hero of the play is king of an unnamed nation; he has a brother who is evil (and has a physical defect, which apparently entails flipping off the audience) and usurps the throne when the king is presumed dead on the battlefield.
- Flipping the Bird: In "Pink Tights and Plenty of Props", the villain has a physical defect, which consists of a middle finger straight up.
- Funny Character, Boring Actor: During one interview he even lamented how much he was currently proving how much trouble he has being funny without material prepared.
- Gonk: As can be seen on the page image, he's not exactly ugly, but can be a bit goofy to look at, especially when he pops his eyes out as Mr. Bean.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: In "A Warm Welcome":
Satan: You're all here for eternity, which I hardly need tell you is a heck of a long time.
- Groin Attack: During the "Invisible Man" bit, the eponymous man lifts the hapless passenger's legs into the air and knees him in the groin.
- Inherently Funny Words: His schoolmaster sketch employs this trope heavily and to hilarious effect. Atkinson's pronunciation of the (increasingly ridiculous) names is reminiscent of his use of the name "Bob" in the various Blackadder series.
Schoolmaster: Ainsley. Babcock. Bland. Carthorse.
- Turned Up to Eleven in the version of this sketch from Rowan Atkinson Live, where the names are simply filthy. Can be found here.
Schoolmaster: Anus. Arse-bandit. Bottom. Clitoris.
- In the Back: Subverted in "Pink Tights and Plenty of Props" (the guy he's about to stab in the back gets him first).
- Large Ham
- Left It In: On one of his comedy albums, he suggests putting his 'Madonna' song in to fill up spare time on the album. Angus Deayton asks to hear it. After Atkinson has sung it, Deayton mutters "No way are we including that".
- Lost In Transmission
- Lovely Assistant: In "The Amazing Jesus":
And there came unto him a woman called Mary who had seen the Lord and believed, and Jesus said unto her, "Put on a tutu and lie down in this box." And then took he forth a saw and cleft her in twain, and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. But Jesus said, "O ye of little faith," and he threw open the box and lo, Mary was whole. And the crowd went absolutely bananas. And Jesus and Mary took a big bow, and he said unto her, "From now on you shall be known as Sharon, for that is a good name for an assistant."
- Precision F-Strike:
- When David Forbert loses the acting award in "The Good Loser", he shouts, "Oh SHIT."
- As father of the bride in "With Friends Like These", he tells most of the wedding guests to fuck off.
- Punny Name: "Roll Call" is a great long list of them.
- Running Gag: In the "Pink Tights" skit, the tight-clad Atkinson continuously mimics dying (typically with a "Bleugh!") and falls to his knees on the hardwood stage. He eventually thinks to use a pillow, or crouch down rather than drop to the knees to avoid the mild pain. In his final death scene, he forgets and shouts in pain as his knees hit the hardwood floor.
- Saw a Woman in Half: Mentioned in "The Amazing Jesus".
Vicar: He then took out a saw and cleft her in twain.
- Shoot the Messenger: In "Pink Tights and Plenty of Props", the messenger who enters bearing bad news which he believes to be good news is killed while trying to beat a hasty retreat.
- Take a Moment to Catch Your Death: In "Pink Tights and Plenty of Props", the king, restored to his throne after his brother usurped it in his absence, drinks from the frothing cup of ale by the throne... which turns out to be filled with poison intended for his brother. Just when it looks as though the poison has simply given him the dry heaves, he shouts "BLEUGH!" and falls to his knees, dead (but not so dead that he can't yell in agony as his knees hit the hardwood floor).