The 2009 Creativity 50: Zach Galifianakis

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Credit: Photo by Robin Von Swank
Depending on how you look at him he's a bit part actor, a first-rate comedian, a decent piano player, a wonderfully acidic and clueless talk show host, or a tranny with anger management issues and a thing for supersize vodka martinis. Such are the colorful faces of Zach Galifianakis, a North Carolina-born jokester who made us nearly soil ourselves laughing, with the trio of absurd Absolut films he created with friends and fellow comedians Tim & Eric for Great Works' Absolut Visionaries campaign. The multitalented performer has had side roles in films like Corky Romano and TV shows like Tru Calling. He's also played a number of recurring parts on Comedy Central programs while touring the country performing routines in which he cracks wise while tickling the ivories. Currently, Galifianakis is working on an HBO show starring Jason Schwartzman, and the online space continues to prove especially fertile ground for the funnyman, who recently put out a hilarious Inside the Actors Studio online parody series, Between Two Ferns, in which he clumsily grills thespians like Michael Cera and Mad Men hot man Jon Hamm.

Galifianakis, on creating the Absolut films: "I got a call from some nice folks in Sweden asking me if I would make an ad for them. I really do not recall the details because I was too worried about how much my cell phone was going to be charged for a long distance call from Stockholm. They basically informed me I could do whatever I wanted. I think the theme is that we kind of wanted to make a very long, absurd thing for them to reject. We did not really develop our characters, we just thought let's have a presence in these ads that is the opposite of what Madison Avenue tries to cram down your throat. Audiences are too jaded now. That is why I think the ads work. I will be at a bar and people send over Absolut Martinis because of the ads. I feel obligated to drink them."

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