5 Best Donald Glover Performances
Though many know him now mainly by his rapper alias Childish Gambino, Donald Glover first came to the attention of many audiences in the meta-humor sitcom Community as Troy Barnes, high school football star-turned-community college student. His energy was integral to the comedy of the show and earned him much-deserved recognition. Many others came to be aware of Glover through his stand-up, irreverent sketch comedy group Derrick Comedy, or his brief stint as a writer on Tina Fey’s sitcom 30 Rock. Along with that, he has become something of a mainstay in Disney’s recent live-action properties with Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day as well as Spider-Man: Homecoming and Solo: A Star Wars Story. He is also giving voice to Simba in the upcoming Lion King remake.
Indeed, Glover is always working on something new, constantly trying to reinvent himself — whether it be through film, television, music or otherwise. Here is the best of his work in the realms of film and television media so far.
Atlanta (2016 to Present)
Years from now, it is likely that Atlanta will be recognized as Glover’s magnum opus — at least with regards to his work in film and television. He is one of the minds behind the show as well as one of the central characters. He plays Earnest “Earn” Marks, a Princeton dropout who finds himself in a constant economically precarious situation. He tries to make his way as the manager of his cousin, small-time Atlanta area rapper Alfred Miles, also known as Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry). Rounding out the cast is Alfred’s friend Darius Epps (Lakeith Stanfield) and Earn’s on-and-off girlfriend Vanessa Keefer (Zazie Beetz), who is also the mother of his daughter Lottie. The show is extremely funny, bizarre and unique as well as beautifully directed.
Magic Mike XXL (2015)
This sequel to Magic Mike is an undeniably fun film. The eponymous former stripper magical Michael (Channing Tatum) and his friends get back together for a stripper convention. Glover plays Andre, a rapper the crew meets along the way. The “one last ride” trope can often feel tired in modern film — but it absolutely works here. Magic Mike XXL is pure hang out-style enjoyment likened by some to the Ocean’s franchise — which is apt because Steven Soderbergh had a large hand in both franchises.
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
Solo: A Star Wars Story seeks to unpack the origins of space-age swindler Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) and the pirates he calls friends and enemies. As one may expect, it is stuffed to the brim with fan-service, but it provides light, relatively low-stakes entertainment (at least for the Star Wars universe). Glover plays a young Lando Calrissian. Though it may not match Billy Dee Williams’ turn as the coolest hustler in the galaxy — he does an undeniably fun impression.
Mystery Team (2009)
Mystery Team is something of a cult film in the comedy community. Glover and his cohorts D.C. Pierson and Dominic Dierkes together make up the sketch comedy group Derrick Comedy. In the film, the trio plays a team of former kid-detectives in the style of Encyclopedia Brown or the Hardy Boys. Though they are now adults — they are emotionally stunted, wholesome to a fault, and frequently fail to grasp the gravity of the situation at hand. When a local girl enlists them to uncover her parents’ murder, they seize it as their opportunity to gain genuine respect in their town. Like the rest of Derrick Comedy’s work, it is very irreverently funny and features some early performances from Aubrey Plaza and Ellie Kemper.
Though he tends to play more restrained in a lot of his work today, Glover’s stand-up can only be described as “energetic.” He makes full use of the stage in his special Weirdo with act-outs that include screaming, running, crying, crawling and just about anything else one can imagine. It is simply a straight-up great bit of comedy that cements him as an undeniably funny personality. Weirdo is a great piece for both fans of Glover and stand-up at large.
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