A wind chill in the low single digits and streets that resembled the Greenland ice sheet could not keep this year’s Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year parade from being one of the most festive and raucous in recent memory.
Scarlett Johansson, diminutive, blond, and hatless, sat shivering on the back seat of a silver Bentley convertible between two towering Hasty Pudding drag queens wearing outrageous headpieces. Among the manic procession accompanying Johansson’s vehicle could be seen three Segway riders wearing futuristic yellow and black costumes, Batman on stilts and Superman on Powerizers, a dancing banana, and of course various Hasty Pudding lads definitely underdressed for the weather in their body stockings and sequined bustiers.
There was a musical cacophony supplied by the Jam’n 94.5 van blaring reggae and the Mix 98.5 van laying down ’80s rock. Somewhere in the middle, the Harvard Band, who somehow managed to keep their lips from sticking to their freezing mouthpieces, blared “Ten Thousand Men of Harvard” as they strode along Massachusetts Avenue.
The old Hasty Pudding Theatre on Dunster Street is still under renovation, so this year’s celebrity roast and previews from the Pudding Show “The Tent Commandments” was held in Agassiz Theatre. As Johansson entered, the band played “Hot Hot Hot,” a strange choice, since that song was recorded in 1987 by Buster Poindexter, the pseudonym of David Johansen, but … whatever.
Hasty Pudding Theatricals president Joshua Brener ’07 and vice president of the cast Justin Rodriguez ’07 played good cop/bad cop with Johansson, with Rodriguez gushing over her looks and talent and Brener questioning whether she was worthy to receive the coveted prize.
Much was made of Johansson’s youth (she is 22). Rodriguez asked if she would mind if he addressed her as Scarlett. “I don’t want to be presumptuous. You are in fact seven months my senior.”
Brener, who claimed to be several weeks older than the star, said, “Scarlett seems like a daughter to me.”
The pair challenged Johansson’s intelligence with a special Hasty Pudding SAT test. Seating the actress in a bright yellow desk chair, Brener asked her a comparison question: “My favorite director is Woody Allen is to my favorite person to get intimate with on screen is …”
Johansson could only look up quizzically.
“The correct answer is Isaac Mizrahi, the guy who grabbed your boobs on the red carpet of the Golden Globes,” shouted Brener.
After several more skits involving both Brener and Rodriguez dropping their pants and imitating a Vanity Fair cover, Johansson shooting Silly String at a human spider from the film “Eight-Legged Freaks,” and Johansson doing an imitation of Woody Allen complete with horn-rimmed glasses, Brener relented. Johansson deserved the Pudding Pot after all.
But not so fast! A very large young man in a blond wig and falsies appeared onstage claiming to be the real Scarlett Johansson. How to tell them apart? Enter Pilgrim, the horse from “The Horse Whisperer.”
“I can recognize the real Scarlett’s voice because she was the one who whispered to me,” said Pilgrim.
First the economy-sized Scarlett told the horse a bad joke, which failed to get a laugh or any other response. Then it was Johansson’s turn. “How’d you like to make $200?” she asked, sotto voce.
“It’s her!” exclaimed Pilgrim. “I’d know that raspy voice anywhere. She truly is the hoarse whisperer!”
And so, Johansson got her pot. “Thank you very much for this … wonderful golden pot,” she extemporized. “It’s the closest I’ll ever get to a Harvard degree, for sure. I’ve enjoyed my stay here, and it’s very inspiring to meet the leaders of the future, as corny as that may sound.”