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There, in the ethereal aquamarine glow, he’s introduced to two couples: Jane Lynch from director Todd Phillips – who was raised without a dad – on Father’s Day, and said, “Thinking of you today.” Or the time his friend and Hangover co-star Bradley Cooper called to tell him that he and his girlfriend had just broken up, and Galifianakis’ response was, “She saw “Inappropriateness is funny to me,” Galifianakis says. I’m in awe of the non-self-awareness of it – the idea that you can be so clueless as to be that disrespectful of another human being.” Somehow, people love him for it. ”) and bizarre performance-art bits, like lip-syncing to songs from ‘s Meyers says, “It’s a mistake to label him an alternative comic. That’s why I like the Wayans Brothers.” One of his favorite racist jokes he can’t tell anymore, because too many people didn’t get it. “I’m terrible about people wanting to take pictures with me,” he says. That’s if I’m in the mood – sometimes I get superbummed.” He has a few different strategies when people ask for a picture. Galifianakis says he has struggled with depression before. So now when someone says, ‘Oh, you’re going to be on the cover of ,’ my first reaction is, ‘Ehhh, I don’t think that’s a good idea. I tell him that sounds like fun, and his eyes get wide: “Do you want to come over to my house and eat pot chocolates? He wants to live in Greece before he gets married, to try to reconnect with something true about himself.“I think he’s cultivated sort of a harmless persona, where he can say something weird and you’re not threatened by it,” says his close friend A. Miles, the head writer for , who first met Galifianakis when Miles waited on him at a Bennigan’s 20 years ago. “You’re happy to be the butt of his joke.” Phillips calls him a “conductor of mayhem,” but also says he “has this natural gift, which is that he was born with these incredibly warm eyes. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like what he does.” Over the past few years, mainstream Hollywood has crept steadily Zach-ward, tapping his off-center charms for comedies like , he rode his bike 15 miles to Downey’s house, showed up sweaty and late, and jokingly insulted a woman Downey used to live with. Lost track of time.” He arrives at the East Village bar five minutes later, wearing a blue-and-green-striped polo and brownish pants. It starts with him confessing that he’s used the term “sand nigger,” then adding that he’s never said it about someone from the Middle East. Never really cried.” One of the few times in his life he ever got in trouble was when he said something inappropriate in school and had to go to the principal’s office. Sometimes he’ll thank them, say he’s a private person, and ask if he can shake their hand instead. I felt terrible.” It’s not any worse than what any famous person has to deal with. (Usually he follows his dad’s advice: “Go to a park and talk to old people.”) There’s a great scene in one of his live DVDs where he talks about “the fragility of the human psyche,” and how he thinks all comedians are a little mentally ill. I mean, it’s cool – but does it have to be the cover? ” We pull up to his apartment, on an industrial block in Brooklyn across the street from a pita bakery. “It’s keeping me up at night.” Then he catches himself, and slips into a mock-TV-announcer voice: “We’ll be right back, with Millionaires Complaining! We named him while we were watching the wedding.” He scratches his head. For all his outré weirdness, Galifianakis is kind of old-fashioned. He thinks reality TV is a scourge – that we’re not far off from , he’ll tell them they have terrible parents.“He doesn’t mean it in a mean or dismissive way – he’s just not into it.” The first time Galifianakis hosted was the day before the Oscars, and according to his friend Sarah Silverman, the Oscar people wanted to fly him out to L. In his pocket is a rolled-up issue of , and around his neck, a pair of those black-foam headphones you get for free on a plane. “I’m Zatch Gassafanasky.” He takes a seat at a sidewalk table and proceeds to remove his left shoe. (“It’s very roomy down there.”) Lately, his walks have been more fitness-related: He just read six pages of One of his go-to routines is making fun of his beard-and-belly look – calling it the Marijuana Santa Claus, the Fat Garden Gnome, the Amber Alert. “My body produces feta cheese.”) When the waitress comes back, he asks her for a paper cup, then takes out a wad of something and stuffs it in his mouth. “They gave me prunes, but I couldn’t talk with them in my mouth. Here are some other things Galifianakis thinks are funny: Skittles. But I feel like, in context, people should know it’s a joke.” He was raised the middle of three kids in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, in a part of the Appalachian foothills most famous for its NASCAR track and a chicken plant. “You know when you see sensitive kids, how things just affect them? “That was me.” One day he wanted to be an architect, the next day a Wimbledon champ. And the yogurt.” A couple of weeks ago he was at an Indian restaurant when he caught a teenager trying to sneak a photo. When you ask Galifianakis if he has any crazy stories from filming in Bangkok, and he says Quinn has a great story about going to a Cambodian sex-slave camp, he’s probably not joking. “The coolest.” They make drinks, and we head out to the roof deck. He also fantasized about adopting a kid and driving around the country in his orange Volkswagen van, doing stand-up in people’s living rooms. I gotta get a rein on things.” Later this year, he has a small role in the new Muppets movie, playing a guy named Hobo Joe. He really likes it: They hardly have any lines.) He’s also shooting an election comedy with Will Ferrell called , where they play sparring politicians. “She was sitting by herself, and I walked up to her and said, ‘Lis- ten, I got your e-mail. I don’t know who listens to it, but I imagine it’s, like, six-year-olds – and it’s a bad message.’ ” Phillips says Galifianakis can do pretty much whatever he wants at this point: “He’s a phenomenal actor.” But his true love, Phillips says, will always be comedy. When you laugh at one of his jokes, his eyes just light up. But there is no greater joy to him than the sound of people laughing.” Cooper agrees.He just walked here from his Brooklyn apartment, three miles across the bridge, and he thinks there might be something stuck inside. But in person, he’s handsome, with small, delicate hands and a face younger than his 41 years. He’s more of a beer guy, but he can’t drink it anymore because it clogs his sinuses. His mom, Mary Frances, is Scots-Irish and has roots in North Carolina going back generations; his dad, Harry, was a heating-oil salesman and ex-college-football player (nickname: “the Greasy Greek”) who moved to America when he was three. But his dad says he knew all along that Galifianakis would be an actor. ) He majored in communications and took a class called Mud Studies. “I was kind of obsessed with it for a couple of months. “This is the best pear you’ve ever had.” It’s a pretty good pear. – that Disney action thriller about crime-fighting guinea pigs – because he was stoned when they asked him to audition.) He says they need to get back to the farm. For the first time in a while, he won’t have a beard. “Zach has a need, deep down, to find humor all the time.But mostly he was uncomfortable preying on innocent people’s kindness and vulnerabil- ity. After , when offers were flooding in, he was also approached about doing something with Nike. He was a compelling host, which is to say, a terrible one. He’d zone out, or slyly insult them; for a while he lobbied to have a trap-door installed under their chairs. This is what I imagine it’s like to be on the phone with James Franco.” He holds his phone up to his ear. Whether he’s asking Natalie Portman if she shaved her V for vagina or yelling on a crowded subway platform, “The choo-choo is coming! ” what he’s really doing is sharing his gift – opening the door to the wonderland that is Zachworld.
While there she also visited the Albanian Community in Kosovo and got an Albanian Eagle tattooed on the back of her neck.
“They’re supposed to be jokes – but right now most of them are still just sentences.” He flips the notebook open to the first page.
“You know what I like to avoid when I put suntan lotion on my sister? “This is a character I’ve been working on for a while called the Wrong Gesturing Guy.” He clears his throat.
Now he’s nibbling on hors d’oeuvres on a patio so heavy with Hollywood-Beltway power it threatens to collapse under its own self-importance. Inside, Newt Gingrich and Buzz Aldrin are talking Republicans, or maybe space. “It’s just both my parents in the hospital.” They snap a photo and walk away giggling. He can’t go five minutes without being approached – probably because he seems so approachable. Eventually, a real cab stops, and soon we’re zoom-ing across the bridge under a 20-foot bill-board with his face on it. He talks with reverence about the old Greek traditions, how his dad used to kiss him on the lips when he dropped him off at high school.
Galifianakis spends time catching up with some comedy pals – Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, Andy Samberg, Seth Meyers – but eventually he needs a break from the schmoozing, so he wanders down to the pool. It just says, ‘I killed a dog with an air horn once.’ “After the set, he’s outside on his phone when two fans walk up. His life is a constant barrage of minor intrusions. There’s nothing you can do except make light of it. He makes no attempts to cloister himself in VIP sections or corner booths – not because he likes the attention (he clearly doesn’t) but because to do otherwise would be a concession to something, the first step down the road to becoming the kind of celebrity he hates. “I just like jokes, and I’m private, and I’m emotional, and I drink too much. I have to figure it out.” After a few drinks, we decide to share a cab back to Brooklyn. He talks about how he ate a bunch of pot chocolates last night and walked around listening to the new Fleet Foxes record. He says he has fond memories of visiting Greece when he was 14, watching his great-aunt squat on the dinner table to demonstrate the proper way to take a dump.