Sixteen years ago, Chris Pratt was a community college dropout, working as a coupon salesman and waiter in Hawaii, and looking for a break in show business. Today he’s not only a Hollywood star, but Hasty Pudding’s Man of the Year.
Pratt — Peter “Star-Lord” Quill in the space epic “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and Andy Dwyer on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” — was greeted with delight Friday by the Hasty Pudding Theatricals troupe in the foyer of their previous clubhouse at 96 Winthrop St. Once introductions were made, the tour guides, David Sheynberg ’16 and Guan-Yue Chen ’17, whisked the honoree away for a taste of the group’s storied past.
“Man, I tell you, this is one of those things where I didn’t know what to expect, but I was ready for anything, and so far, I’m just tickled,” said Pratt.
Pratt was taken by the clubhouse’s age — it’s nearly a century and a half old — as conveyed by its portraits and mementos. “I’m from the West Coast, so to come out and see a building that was built over a 100 years ago — or at least something that’s more than 40 years old — that’s great history,” he said.
Having worked with several alumni on “Parks,” including co-creator Greg Daniels, he also had something to say about Harvard-style humor. “There’s a certain brand of smartass humor, hyper-intelligent wit that I really appreciate, so I feel at home here.”
Working his way back to the foyer, Pratt was unexpectedly greeted by the Radcliffe Pitches, Harvard’s oldest all-female a cappella group, who serenaded him with an acerbic take on doo-wop.
At one point in the tour, the actor paused to remove his thick winter coat and revealed a No. 49 Patriots jersey, emblazoned with Super Bowl victory logos and his own name on the back. Pratt, a native of Washington State, had begun the day with a visit to a local charity, honoring a Super Bowl bet with his fellow Marvel star, Chris Evans of “Captain America.”
“Any time you can start your day like that, it’s a good day. It was so moving and I was honored to be there,” said Pratt.
But the day’s honors weren’t done yet, and the star was to wrap up his visit with the Man of the Year roast at Farkas Hall. The roasters for the night, Joshua Friedman ’16 and Zoe Rosenthal ’16, lampooned Pratt’s past, present, and future in the industry.
“In ‘What’s Your Number?’ our Man of the Year played Disgusting Donald — a man who used to be fat and then became skinny and successful. Who knew he was a method actor?” quipped Friedman, alluding to Pratt’s real-life weight loss.
Rosenthal, who also serves as a producer for the Pudding, referenced an unorthodox friendship in a recent role. “In ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ our Man of the Year stared as Peter Quill, a human who befriends a raccoon. Thanks, Chris, for encouraging my little brother to get rabies.”
Pratt took it in stride as he was brought on stage, graciously thanking his hosts for their mockery. “It’s the first time I’ve ever been roasted, and you guys did a great job,” he said, encouraging the audience to give his hosts a round of applause.
The event quickly transitioned from a two-person act to a full-cast production, complete with burlesque skits that parodied Pratt’s roles on television and the big screen. The spoofs featured a bevy of factory-rejected costumes, from Navy SEALs and sharks from his role in “Zero Dark Thirty” to a green caterpillar-like monstrosity, a call-out to “Guardians.”
After escaping with a sliver of dignity intact, Pratt was finally awarded his Pudding Pot. With the traditional Hasty Pudding bra properly fastened, the Man of the Year took his bow.
“It’s been a really amazing day,” said Pratt. “There’s no place I’d rather be.”