What would you do if you were the last person on earth? I suppose this questions bears some thought now that we are over a year into a deadly virus that has killed approximately 2.22M people worldwide. I’m not suggesting that coronavirus will make anyone the last person on earth, especially as the we begin to roll out the vaccine, but the whole ordeal has given us a warning as to how easily the human race could be wiped out. If not this virus, maybe the next.
Quite fittingly, I have been watching the post-apoaolytpic comedy series: ‘The Last Man on Earth’, which was created by and stars SNL alumnus, Will Forte. Quick fact about Will Forte: His real name is Orville, but he understandably goes by his middle name because Orville is a ridiculous name. Coincidentally, Orville also happens to be the name of my father who, like Will Forte, is also wise enough to go by an alternative name. If we can learn anything from this, it is that we should stop calling our babies Orville because it’s not 1871. Anyway, this isn’t supposed to be an article about stupid names, its supposed to be about The Last Man on Earth, which is a show that’s got me through the past couple of weeks. With that said, I’ll admit that this might not be everyones cup of tea.
It’s safe to say that Will Forte’s sense of humour hasn’t always been the most appreciated, with many of his sketch ideas for SNL considered to be “too odd to air”. Personally, I’m a big Will Forte fan. His goofiness makes me laugh like nothing else and his ability to combine it with a touch of sincerity creates a warming sense of optimism. I loved the quirkiness and originality of his sketches on SNL and also his more subdued performance alongside Bruce Dern in Nebraska, which is a beautiful film, perfect for a Sunday morning accompanied by a coffee and a cigarette.
Despite some uncertainly surrounding his sense of humour, the Last Man on Earth is his time to shine in a perfect marriage of zany humour and the truths of human nature. His character, ‘Phil Miller’ is the image of an unkept man with Forrest Gump style hair and beard, sporting nothing more than a pair of boots and a heavily stained hoodie with some underwear to match. Phil Miller recognises the positives in his circumstances, and if there’s anything positive about being the last man on earth, it’s being able to let yourself go. No one’s going to tell you that you’re drinking too much or that you’re putting on too much weight, all you would have to do is avoid catching yourself in the mirror. Also, whilst we’re discussing positives of being the last man on earth, think of all the dumb activities you could participate in. I know that I’d be tearing around in a Ferrari, scoring goals at Wembley and maybe even blowing up a couple of buildings just for the fun of it. Phil Miller clearly shares my philosophy as he descends into alcoholism and becomes a collector of legendary artefacts including the US Constitution, Monet’s paintings and Michael Jordan’s iconic Chicago Bulls jersey. However, it quickly becomes apparent that these things mean very little without anyone to share them with. Sure you could live in Buckingham Palace and blow up The Shard, but seeing that building collapse into the Thames would feel pretty empty if you couldn’t watch it with anyone. When I finally blow up The Shard, I hope that I’m surrounded by loved ones because that’s what it is all about.
The reality of loneliness isn’t so funny. Even the most introverted of people need occasional human interaction to, at the very least, remind themselves that they exist. I’m not sure how I’d react, but Phil Miller opts for the ‘Wilson’ strategy, taken from the film, ‘Castaway’ where Tom Hanks befriends a volleyball whilst stranded on a desert island. The only difference in The Last Man on Earth is that Phil goes for ‘the more the merrier’ approach by humanising around 15 sports balls, all with their own names and personalities. Sadly, despite his merry gang of balls, his hope begins to deteriorate, and with two years of solitude under his belt, Phil accepts that there is no one coming to free him of his isolation. His only option now is to take his own life so he may join the rest of the human race that left him behind. Phil’s chosen method of suicide is to drunkenly drive full speed into a boulder, which is an incredibly Will Forte method of suicide. In the same circumstance, I’d probably go for a backflip off Big Ben, but each to their own. As Phil’s car approaches the boulder which will surely crumple like a coke can upon impact, he see’s a cloud of smoke in the distance which reignites a glimmer of hope inside him…