Josh Groban's Greatest Hits In TV Comedy
In or out of character, his comedic voice hits almost as many high notes as his baritone one.
When you read the name Josh Groban just now, did you think crooner or comedian?
Because either answer is correct, we're here to correct the record and play all of it back for you now, from the pitch-perfect Golden Grobes to those roles that may remain B-sides when it comes time to assemble the Groban's "Greatest Hits" from sitcoms, dramedies and late-night talk shows.
Let us not forget that TV helped make and break Groban into stardom by the time he was 20, appearing as Malcolm Wyatt in 2001's fourth-season finale of Ally McBeal. In more recent years, he has shown off his more humorous side both in concert and on the small screen -- more often than not as himself, but this week as someone else, in what can only (?) best (??) be described as a friendly singing stalker (???) in the Robin Williams Sitcom Comeback Vehicle for CBS, aka The Crazy Ones.
"I love taking these roles because it just gives me a chance to kind of spread out," Groban told TV Guide this week. "I've done a few things where I've kind of played myself or like a bizarro version of myself, and I thought it would be fun to kind of go in there and not be, you know, the music guy."
And yet he played a bizarro music guy. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.
The Office, as Walter Bernard, Jr. (October 2011)
In the fourth episode of Season 8, "The Garden Party" allowed us to feel some sympathy for Andy as he was upstaged by his brother Walter Jr. when trying to prove his worth to dear old Dad as the new office manager at Dunder-Mifflin. Literally upstaged. Dad would rather sing with Junior, and before you can turn a phrase, it's two-part harmony, three's a crowd. Walter Jr. also mines laughs out of repeatedly mistaking other ladies as the Pam to Jim's Jim.
Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, as himself (March 2009)
It's been a while since we've enjoyed a great TV ad for a greatest-hits music collection, so until the next one comes along, please enjoy this ad parody from the minds of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim's late-night Adult Swim series that spoofed the whole overnight genre. Their Cinco Music label produced "Groban Sings Casey," with Groban performing all the songs that paid tribute to their Casey character and his brother, with lyrics as loving and touching as "I want to ride on a choo-choo train." Roll the clip!
Jimmy Kimmel Live, as himself (January 2011)
Josh Groban may not yet have hosted, and may never host, Saturday Night Live – although if he doesn't make at least one cameo sketch appearance there in his lifetime, that'd be a darned shame for all of us – but he has achieved favored status with Jimmy Kimmel. Earlier this year, Groban helmed an ad spoof for his own line of "sex pills," but 'twas putting the tweets of Kanye West to music two years earlier that rang truest and funniest. Roll the clip!
The Crazy Ones, as Danny Chase (November 2013)
Groban reappears in Sydney's life as a long-lost-but-would-not-be-forgotten former co-worker. From failed jingle writer to potential seducer, he mounts his comeback with a serenade written just for Sydney, complete with old-school CD and customized cover photo. Lines such as "Girl, you make my heart sing / you're hotter than a Buffalo wing," or "One cubicle over and I'm not trying to stare / but I get so distracted by the smell of your hair. / You're on the Atkins diet, with sneakers, sneakers on the stairs" don't win Sydney over. But it's an earworm for everyone else at the ad agency, and inspires a winning jingle for their account with Australia. All of Australia. And Syd's rejection of Danny prompts him to write an even more brooding tune, "I Barely Knew You." Roll the clip!
It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, as himself (October 2013)
For the FX/FXX sitcom's 100th episode this fall, "The Gang Saves The Day" called on Groban to save Dee's day in a dream sequence by marrying her after she herself becomes famous. He first tells a reporter at a future movie junket about falling for Dee: "When I found out that Mr. Covington was actually a chick, I had to have her." He quickly switches to referring to himself in the third person, however, in response to Dee, saying: "That's true. Groban does like his ladies to pop." And, as is his character's wont, he sings a few lines he custom-wrote for the occasion. If only their marriage lasted longer than 17 minutes. Pop! Pop!
Glee, as himself (September 2009)
While you likely didn't know about Groban's appearance for Tim & Eric four years ago, you probably couldn't get far enough away from his guest spots on Glee, back when everyone was paying attention to Glee during its inaugural season of regionals on FOX. Groban showed up twice: the latter time as a celebrity judge; the more memorable time first, to hit on Mrs. Schuester because he "loves a blowsy alcoholic" but not so much the stylings of Sandy Ryerson, to whom he delivers a restraining order.
Now about that petition to put Groban on SNL...