Listen up losers – today is the day we’ve been waiting for for 14 years. It’s time to finally go back to Camp Firewood, where the sexual tension fills the humid Maine air and hits you like a disgusting sticky wall of regret and the counselors could honestly not give two shits about their campers. I’m so excited.
We’re going back to 1981, but this time around, a few days before the kiddos arrive, hence, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp. The new Netflix prequel of eight glorious episodes comes out today, and previously released intel reveals that it looks exactly the same (in a good way), but with even more star power than before, which seems impossible. For the prequel, co-creators David Wain and Michael Showalter recruited some of today’s hottest stars, including Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig, John Slattery, Jason Schwartzman, Chris Pine, Josh Charles, etc. etc. etc. While I’m looking forward to seeing these folks at Camp Firewood, I’m also looking forward to seeing the old counselors back on campus again. Particularly because they’re playing a few days younger than what they were in the movie they filmed 15 years ago.
And 15 years ago, a lot of these cast members were still flying under the radar of fame. For Bradley Cooper, it was his first feature film, and there’s still a good chunk of the world who didn’t even know he was in it. David and Michael sure know how to pick them, and as we can see from the careers the cast has had since then, everyone’s doing just fine. But while they have had unforgettable roles they will be known for for the rest of their lives (Leslie Knope, Effie Trinket, Det. Elliot Stabler), these accomplished actors have their fair share of underrated performances. So in honor of going back to Maine, here are some of my favorite roles Camp Firewood alum have taken on since 1981/2001.
Amy Poehler as Susie
Post Camp Firewood Choice Performance: Sondra in A.C.O.D.
You love seeing Amy and Adam Scott as Leslie and Ben, but do you think you’ll love them as stepmother and stepson? The surprising answer is yes. If you’re wondering – but they’re one year apart in age, how is that possible?? That’s why it’s funny folks. Sondra is a short-tempered rich bitch who doesn’t particularly care too much about being a mother figure to Adam Scott’s character, and she brings the laughs (as always). Plus the dynamic between them is reason enough to see this movie.
Bradley Cooper as Ben
Post Camp Firewood Choice Performance: Holden Wilson in Valentine’s Day
We all know how big of a star B Coops has become since this movie. And as previously mentioned, WHAS was Bradley’s first feature film coming straight out of the Inside The Actors Studio school and oh boy what a role it was. Relatedly, Bradley was in, IMHO an underrated movie, Valentine’s Day, which follows in the style of Love Actually and He’s Just Not That Into You. He plays a soldier who meets Julia Roberts on a plane and maybe I was too engrossed in the other B-X plots but I definitely did not seeing his ending coming.
Michael Ian Black as McKinley
Post Camp Firewood Choice Performance: Phil Stubbs in Ed
Michael Ian Black is best known for his usually over-the-top comedic roles, but he toned it down a bit for dramedy Ed, a series that aired the entire four years we were in high school, and I feel like I was in a small group of teens who watched it in its entirety. MIB played one of the employees at bowling alley Stuckeybowl, which is owned by the titular Ed. MIB brings the comedy to the series as like the odd guy (out), bringing the necessary townie strangeness needed for the small town life. (PS: full eps are on youtube!!!!!)
Elizabeth Banks as Lindsay
Post Camp Firewood Choice Performance: Avery Jessup in 30 Rock
Elizabeth Banks is one of those people who is loved by all and can do pretty much anything she’s asked to play. For the record, Avery Jessup is one of the best characters she’s ever played because she’s so insane and so real that it hurts so good. However, I think it’s worth noting that Elizabeth is an exceptional dramatic actress as well. Specifically in THG: Mockingjay Part 1, she obviously doesn’t have as many scenes as Katniss but the sorrow and despair in Effie’s being is so heartbreaking, which is all Elizabeth. More dramatic roles, please!!
Paul Rudd as Andy
Post Camp Firewood Choice Performance: Mike Hannigan in Friends
It’s worth noting that no one has aged. Not one bit. Especially Paul Rudd. He’s had so many excellent roles over the years that sometimes it’s easy to forget roles that seemed fairly small compared to what else was going on in the rest of the movie/tv show. I.E. Mike, Phoebe’s hubs on Friends. It’s hard to be the outsider within the group of six, but Mike fit in so well. He was a perfect match for Pheebs and could actually tolerate her weirdness by complementing it with his own absurdities.
Christopher Meloni as Gene
Post Camp Firewood Choice Performance: Ray Whelans in Veep
Although Chris Meloni is probably best known as Elliot Stabler, Chris Meloni has done his fair share of comedies, obviously incuding Wet Hot American Summer. He uses that ridiculousness from the kitchen and brings it to roles like Veep, where he had a mini-arc as VP Selina Meyer’s
Trainer Wellness Advisor, who she *spoiler alert* ends up sleeping with.
Ken Marino as Victor Kulak
Post Camp Firewood Choice Performance: Vinnie Van Lowe in Veronica Mars
I will always post this video when I get the opportunity. Ken Marino is a genius.
Joe Lo Truglio as Neil
Post Camp Firewood Choice Performance: Lonnie in I Love You, Man
Like Paul Rudd and Ken Marino, Joe has had a bunch of great roles since WHAS, but this one cracks me up every time I see it. Also, I just watched The Wedding Ringer, and it’s basically the same movie as I Love You, Man, right?
A.D. Miles as Gary
Post Camp Firewood Choice Performance: A.D. Miles in The Tonight Show/Late Show with Jimmy Fallon
A.D. was kind of the silent forgotten hero in WHAS, but A.D. IRL has gone on to become one of the best in the comedy biz. He was hired as the head writer for Jimmy’s Late Night show and currently serves as the head writer for the Tonight Show. In this recurring sketch with Justin Timberlake, A.D. goes back to his camp roots and reminds me of Ug Lee from Salute Your Shorts.
Molly Shannon as Gail von Kleinenstein
Post Camp Firewood Choice Performance: Val in Will & Grace
We all know that Molly Shannon is hilarious. This is a given. But she played such a creepy funny character on Will & Grace as the insane neighbor. Like a pop up book from hell, Val legit just shows up when you least expect it and she’s one of my favorite characters Molly’s played since Sally O’Malley.
Judah Friedlander – Ron von Kleinenstein
Post Camp Firewood Choice Performance: Brian in Sharknado 2: The Second One
Since I’m most accustomed to seeing Judah in big glasses and a trucker hat with some kind of riddle on the front, it took me a second to realize that he was fending off killer sharks in Sharknado 2: The Second One. It’s like the equivalent of Rachael Leigh cook taking out her ponytail and glasses in She’s All That. A WHOLE DIFFERENT PERSON.
Marguerite Moreau as Katie
Post Camp Firewood Choice Performance: Katie in Parenthood
I feel like this picture accurately depicts the entire arc (albeit small) Marguerite had on Parenthood. She was dating Crosby in the first few episodes and eager to have a baby, and wanted to freeze his sperm, but Crosby was all Helllll nahhh son I ain’t bout that life ::enter Jasmine and Jabbar:: Bye Katie.
Kyle Gallner – Bobby’s Buddy
Post Camp Firewood Choice Performance:
Beaver Cassidy Casablancas in Veronica Mars
GUYS I HAD NO IDEA KYLE GALLNER WAS IN WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER AS THIS KID. BRAND NEW INFORMATION.