For fans of Billy On The Street, Difficult People, and Parks And Recreation, this casting news will come as something as a no brainer. Entertainment Weekly has exclusively revealed that the tremendous Billy Eichner has joined the cast of Hairspray Live!, and, though his role in the production is a minor one, it's also a significant one. Especially since it feels tailor-made for the comedy star. According to the EW report, Eichner will turn up in the second act of Hairspray Live! as local Baltimore newscaster, Rob Barker, who relays the story of Tracy Turnblad as she escapes from prison in order to integrate the popular dance program, The Corny Collins Show.
The musical is renowned for being an offbeat, kitsch gem (with all subsequent productions being based off the 1988 original movie by the anarchic and ground-breaking director, John Waters), and Hairspray Live! thankfully features a startlingly phenomenal cast that is just as mighty as the source material demands. Starring such supreme talent as Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Kristin Chenoweth, Martin Short, Derek Hough, Rosie O’Donnell, and Sean Hayes, Eichner makes for a crucial and complimentary addition to the cast. But also he's just ridiculously perfect for the role, and here's why:
1. His "Presenter" Duties Are Already Highly Commendable
With a roaming street camera and a microphone come great power, as Eichner's spontaneous comedy show Billy On The Street perfectly exemplifies. He might not be a newscaster, per se, or completely professional with his handling of on-camera delivery (or his less than courteous approach to speaking with random members of the public), but he sure is great at presenting whatever stupendous (and sometimes stupefying) comedic anarchy prevails on Billy On The Street. And that's enough to convince me that he can bring perfect comedic form to such a simple role as a newscaster.
2. He Can Deliver Vital Information Quickly And Attentively
As the above clip from Parks And Recreation perfectly shows, Eichner has no trouble with delivering long, ominous threads of information in a way that is both threatening and audibly presentable. What a unique skill, right? And, frankly, that's exactly what media manager types look for when choosing newscasters (I imagine, anyway): someone who can disseminate important details, at length and with speed, in a manner that is to the point and also sometimes completely off-putting. Sometimes the news can be scary, guys.
3. His Comedy Style Can Be Incredibly Dry And Downplayed
On Hulu's Difficult People, Eichner's proclivity for delivering annihilating one-liners is worthy of a standing ovation in your own lounge every episode. The script for Hairspray, though mercilessly upbeat overall, is also full of dry, sardonic humor, which Eichner will be able to deliver with aplomb.
4. He Clearly Has A Great Ear For Music
If his phenomenal Funny Or Die parody of Taylor Swift songs (above, titled "Glitter And Ribs") is anything to go by, then not only is Eichner reasonably musically talented, but he also clearly has an ear for that type of thing. Not that it sounds like he'll be doing much singing in his Hairspray Live! role (unfortunately for all of us), but it's just nice to know that he, his voice, and his clear musical prowess will be there should there be a live emergency that requires them.
5. He Can Do Melodramatic Anger Better Than Most
As shown perfectly in the above clip in which Park And Recreation's Craig expresses his incurable "medical condition" (of caring too much) by screaming about it (see also: Every episode of Billy On The Street and every other episode of Parks And Rec which features Eichner). Melodramatic outbursts of anger regarding some of the universes greatest and most insufferable banalities is something that Eichner does extremely well — and something that would suit the role of a newscaster reporting about the problems of a dance contest and a teenager with legal woes heading straight for it. It all sounds pretty perfect, if you ask me.
6. He Probably Would Have Only Live Tweeted The Production Anyway
Followers of Eichner on Twitter will already be aware that the man loves to live tweet important shows. Point and case was the Grease Live! performance earlier this year, which brought us an endless stream of delightful observations and statements regarding the production. Though fans might be sad that he won't be live tweeting Hairspray Live!, it's a pretty great consolation prize to have him star in the show instead. Plus, I wholly expect him to be live tweeting the whole production from backstage when he isn't on stage himself.
7. Even In Small Roles, He Manages To Steal Scenes
Including his small role in Neighbors 2 this past summer and his memorable cameo appearance in Season 2 of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (where he plays himself, and tries to indulge a confused Kimmy in a Billy On The Street game), Eichner doesn't do minor role in a minor way. He amplifies what minor screen time he may have and ensures that he delivers in a way that the audience won't forget. In his small role as the Baltimore newscaster in Hairspray Live!, he might not be in the show for long, but I've no doubt that that he'll be memorable, nonetheless.
See? He's the perfect fit. So make sure you keep the evening of Dec 7 free for yourself to experience Eichner and the rest of the superb cast's performances when Hairspray Live! airs on NBC direct from LA.
Images: Giphy; Netflix