Though Christopher Walken spent a majority of his early career in mostly serious roles, in the last two decades he has surprisingly emerged as a reliable source of a few dozen laughs in comedies. However, in an interview to promote his Toronto International Film Festival movie Seven Psychopaths with Moviefone, Walken admits that he’s completely mystified on why people find what he does funny.
Though Walken is best known for his serious roles, he has appeared in numerous comedies in which he, well, does pretty much the same thing as his serious roles except they somehow end up being funny. Walken admits he doesn’t really know when something will end up being funny or not, saying, “Some people can do things and get away with it. Comics are famously like that. Why is it that some guys can say the most horrible things and it’s not offensive, it’s funny? Richard Pryor made a career of that. Comedy Central, I watch it sometimes. I always like to watch comics and it’s interesting that you can tell if someone’s funny in 10 seconds. Do you find that? Some comic you’ve never saw before and all you have to do is listen to them for 15 seconds and you’ll think ‘He’s funny’ or ‘He’s not funny.’ It’s a strange thing. You can tell immediately.”
Part of Walken’s method of his serious approach to comedy comes from something he once heard from acting legend Laurence Olivier. He explains, “Laurence Olivier said in an interview once that when he plays a tragedy he always aims for the funny parts, and the other way around. Because in a comedy you look for what’s serious. I think that’s true. Sometimes things are really funny if you’re absolutely earnest. If you’re really serious, it’s hilarious.”
Ultimately, Walken seems downright confused on what exactly it is about him that people find funny. He says, “I never know when I am being funny, and the other way too. I don’t think you can think about that. I don’t think you can try to be funny. Some people are just funny. Everybody’s got an uncle who’s funny, and if you say they’re funny, they’ll look at you like What? What’s so funny?“