Friday, March 26, 2010

The Greatest Robot Needs Ron Podesta

(Illustration by Stephanie Herrera)

Look up comedy in a dictionary. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Alright, now that you’ve sat there for five seconds without doing a thing, comedy has four or more different definitions depending on which source you perused. Most or all of them contain some of these words: humor, amusement and entertainment. The Greatest Robot (in the World) embodies these three terms very well. Recent developments, however, have created a shift in the way The Greatest Robot is composed. (Keep in mind, though, that these changes are not very noticeable with the robot-relaunch that just happened earlier this week.)

Each member of The Greatest Robot has his own veritable comedic strengths. Elias Jimenez seems to be able to stretch into almost any role ranging from antagonists (“Pop-Tart Chase,” “Warm Chocolate”), oddball characters (Fandingo, The Exterminator, Turban-man on toilet, thug in “FBI’s Most Wanted: Waldo”), and victim/prey (“Military: The Dare,” “Sitcom Audience of Doom”). Marc Wondolowski shares Elias’ ability, but plays deadpan and legitimate kinds of humor noticeably well (“Deep in Thought with Marc,” “Pubes for Love,” “Biff: Time-Traveling Ron,” “CIA Techniques,” etc.). Ryan Fleites’ sketches seem to almost always contain some type of vulgar and offensive comments (“Tom Jenkin‘s Stand-Up”), dialogue (“Project Elias Cock”) or actions (“Mixed Signals,” “Spooge-O-Matic 5000”) and to be honest, he excels at them. Finally, Ron Podesta projects one of the more dynamic trends in comedy in recent years: over-acted comedy. However, to some complaint, Podesta doesn’t have try to hard to get some of his best moments across: “Ron-Cutters,” “Monopoly: It’s Not Just a Game,” “Ron-Roids,” “Zombie Ron,” “Ron Chokes,” “Marc and Ron’s Intimate Moment,” “Right Way/ Ron Way,” “Racoon Wrangler” and “Finger Guns.” While all of the sketches listed featured a somewhat limited amount of Podesta’s participation, he is a necessary element in almost all of them for different reasons.

It is difficult to fully describe what Podesta brings to The Greatest Robot, because he really just brings himself. For example, during “Right Way/Wrong Way” and “Racoon Wrangler” he doesn’t transform into another personality or character. Similarly, "Ron-Roids" and "Ron Chokes" feature little to no dialogue from Podesta. The actions, specifically, the believabilty of the actions, may seem to come across as poor, or even corny to a comedic critic, but it really is just Podesta's usual behavior that shines through these performances. The nature and diction of the dialogue captured in those sketches can be easily inserted into a casual conversation with Ron Podesta. Which may be the problem that caused Podesta's exclusion from the Robot-reinstitution.

It is not that Podesta’s ability to deliver is not criticized; he delivers satisfactory results with his recorded comedy. Rather, it is only his “Robot Work-Ethic” that is sometimes frowned upon. From personal testimonies with certain members of The Greatest Robot, Podesta has been described as "a burden to work with," "always late," "have to rationalize him to take on a questionable," "a lazy primadonna" and "knows his way around a [expletive]." These phrases may just be opinions, strong opinions, but they don't contradict or lessen Podesta's performances. Sketches that are infamously known within The Greatest Robot for Podesta's unwillingness to perform such as, "Ron-Roids" and "Vlad Counts to Ten" have become some of the more memorable comedic shorts in The Greatest Robot pantheon for the delivery of his lines or gestures in his actions.

With the second coming of The Greatest Robot, one would think that a major, and perhaps, integral part to the Robot would be eagerly anticipating to humorously make things awkward, and he is. In a personal conversation with Ron Podesta, he has expressed that he is "excited" to work with camera and comedy after the Robot-fallout nearly two years ago. However, if his renewed vigor to act would change his acting “style” remains to be seen in the coming months.

It may unlikely that Ron Podesta is a significant part to the comedy that is The Greatest Robot, and more likely that the four members together form an “unstoppable” force of humor. The case may be that Elias, Marc, Ryan and Ron really need each other to compose an entertaining ten minutes or less. With the Robot Revival at hand, the answer to these questions may soon be answered.

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