Every Christmas at my family get-together, the ham is considered the key player in the pantheon of meats. As my oldest sister lives closest to Jonathan’s, she is charged with the extra-special task of purchasing the ham, wrapping it tenderly in a moistened calico cloth and bearing the precious cargo to the lunch table. Or, as we call it, ‘the Shatner.’
Many efforts are made to include its correct title in conversation: ‘Pass me the Shatner will you?’ ‘Your father finished up the last of the Shatner’ (with lips of string) and ‘I was sick for a week when I scoffed that Shatner in the back of the fridge.’
We are not cannibals, though. Not only is the ham one of my family’s most prized meats, we also revere the star of stage, screen and airwaves that is William Shatner (or James Tiberius Kirk, in his finest porcine role).
You think that only the likes of Jack Thompson, Morgan Freeman and Nicholas Cage are worthy of the title of ham actor? Bah! Amateurs! There is only one ham actor at the top of the sty and that is our Bill. You have to be extra special to be a ham actor. Your performance must elicit groans and chuckles (or both at the same time, the ‘gruckle’), and ultimately warmth and intense like. You must get a little smile every time you think of them playing to the camera, or mis-quoting famous authors or releasing an album of spoken word or acting ‘in character’ of a show that hasn’t been on air in 30 years for a cheap thrill.
I give you….the Shatner Hall of Fame:
Keanu: Only one name necessary. Oh I was so in love with this sexless block of wood as a youngster. His little stubby, featureless fingers and strangely blank eyes (usually the tools of even a mediocre actor). Perfectly cast in the hoot that is Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, things have never been quite the same since. HE TOOK ON SHAKESPEARE IN LEATHER PANTS. And yet, is still making movies. And once pashed River Phoenix in the name of ART, and for that I dips me lid.
Kenneth Branagh: A lot of so-called ‘Shakespearian actors’ make it to the list of hams. The pinnacle of his great Days of Ham was when he directed and starred in Frankenstein with Helena Bonham-Carter, to whom he was giving It. Or was it his hearty gales of laughter in Much Ado About Nothing? Or stern battle-rallying in Henry V? Oh, I can’t decide.
David Hasselhoff: Big in Germany. All you need to know.
Brendan Fraser: Ah, he is dreamy. And has nothing much behind the eyes. Ah, The Mummy trilogy. Ah, Encino Man. Award-winning stuff. These oafish ones make superb hams. I’d also say the same for many Canadians (Keanu, Jim Carrey, Rick Moranis etc), a fantastically hammy country. According to Wikipedia he is also an ‘accomplished amateur photographer’. I bet he is.
Andre Rieu: OK, so not technically an actor, but what a magnificent haunch of cured pork! Anyone who can persuade literally millions of menopausal women to spend literally billions of dollars on his gay waltzes and jaunty twiddling has got a lot going for him. Bring up his name at any party and everyone’s seen one of his extravaganzas. But not one can pronounce his name. I love him.
James Spader: Coincidence that he stars in Boston Public with our Bill and also Candace Bergen, another prize ham? I think not. I think I’m getting to the heart of things here. James Spader is awesomely cool in every film he makes, yet plays the same person. His voice is a parody of a person taking off a person impersonating James Spader. And anyone who sports nipple-high blonde chinos with the aplomb he does in Pretty in Pink should be showered in gold.
Some of these insanely self-deluded people teeter on the edge of ‘ham’ and are just ‘shit’. Yes, they are bad actors, but we’re not so fond of these ones. We wouldn’t like to be stuck behind them in the queue for the loo at the Emmys. We suspect all they do is just roam about the earth using up the planet’s resources. A lot of Aussies in this list, and a fair few women (thus proving that the Ladies are harder on their own gender!):
Ben Affleck: I saw him in some crap the other night (Paycheck? Bad spelling and bad movie) and STILL wanted to slap his light brown putty head. When there is nothing more you can you can do, no-one you can date, and nobody you can write award-winning movies with that will make you either cool or watchable, it is time to get in line behind Billy Zane for a job as a tailor’s dummy.
Rhonda Burchmore (what my sister calls a ‘female ham’): Apparently I stumbled up to her at my cousin’s wedding and slurred something witty – here’s hoping it wasn’t too offensive. Will get her legs out at any charity event, TV show or ad, as someone told her in the sixties she has great gams, and is on eternal mission to remind Australia of same. GET OFF. THE STAGE.
Kate Hudson: So pretty! So blonde, so bubbly! Everyone’s friend! The same character in every movie, just like her mother!! Me, I buy it not.
Gwyneth Paltrow: The Golden G and I went through a phase where we would punish ourselves by seeing G-Palt movies we knew we’d loathe. Then digging each other furiously in the ribs and feverishly dissecting it afterwards. Go see Sliding Doors if you don’t know what I mean – the scene where they sit around and quote ‘Monty Python’ for a full 5 mins. Thus to illustrate the Britishness of the lass. Oh, her appalling accents. Her smug mien. The trading on her cool, icy demeanour in place of actual talent. Her WEBSITE.
Nicole Kidman: Shudder. Shudder, shudder. Shudder shudder shudder.
Daryl Somers, Bert Newton and Rove Mc Manus (in essence, the same person): Is possible Rhonda Burchmore (above) has appeared on all the talkshows of these gentlemen. All good hams have mediocre talkshows, however it takes someone truly shit to take on musical theatre/daytime telly/standup/that utter shite 20 to 1. Mr Somers is probably the hammiest of the above, and I have it on good authority that he’s an absolute bastard to work with.
If you have your own prize Shatner, put in the comments pls! Anyone who defends Nicole will be BANNED for LIFE.
Picture essay: The many faces of Shatner