Long before his lucrative turns as a bearded man-child and his time spent between two houseplants, Zach Galifianakis was an aspiring actor in New York City. These two silent films purport to feature Galifianakis as a boxer and an aspiring "hipster" in Williamsburg of the early 90s. His superb co-stars include old school Pepsi cans, a vintage Combos wrapper and a smoke-blowing jerk beamed in from 2012.
The YouTube member who posted the videos identifies themselves as "Big Al Roman," and calls this one a "ludicrous student film."
I was enrolled in The New School University's film studies program. Zach portrayed the hipster/wannabe infiltration of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NYC in the early 1990's. This was well before Zach discovered the affect he would have on his audience by donning a beard instead of a goatee. It was all just for laughs.
In "A One Way Ticket To Palookaville," Galifianakis is cast as "The Boxer." "Big Al" Roman notes that it was "Shot with an Arriflex camera on the waterfront in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NYC circa 1993." You can see the makings of Galifianakis's physical comedy in his running sequence.
We're pretty convinced it's THE Zach Galifianakis, but our attempts to reach out to the YouTube member have been fruitless. The comedian spoke to the New York Times in 2009 about his early days on the fringe of the New York comedy scene.
“My first show was in the back of a hamburger restaurant in Times Square called Hamburger Harry’s,” Galifianakis recalled fondly. “As soon as I got offstage, I knew that this was what I wanted to do. The next 35 shows were terrible, but that didn’t matter. I was going to every open mike, seeing every show, taking every gig that I could get. I did shows in Midtown, standing on bar stools, with a hockey game on, and everyone in the bar looking the other way. You were literally yelling over the sound of the game, trying to get people’s attention.” He shook his head at the memory. “I figured out pretty early that comedy comes out of discomfort.”
“There was a scene in the mid-’90s, at a bar on Ludlow Street called the Luna Lounge,” Galifianakis told me. “The comedy there was more like performance art. My favorite skit was by a group called Slovin and Allen, who eventually became writers for ‘Saturday Night Live.’ They built a time machine that only went 30 seconds into the past. They’d just keep repeating the same thing over and over, every time they flipped the time-travel switch. That was so friggin’ funny.”