Before ‘Batman,’ Michael Keaton did a short-lived ’70s slapstick sitcom

Michael Keaton A world-renowned, award-winning actor who has thrilled audiences for decades. For longtime fans and cinephiles, Keaton is best known for his genre-defining role as The Dark Knight, aka Batman/Bruce Wayne, beginning with Tim BurtonClassic movie, symbol of 1989, Batman. However, before he wowed audiences worldwide with his performance as The Caped Crusader, Keaton was best known as a comedian, cutting his teeth in films such as The Night Shift And Mr. Mom. But in the late 1970s, one of his leading roles was a short, slapstick CBS sitcom called. Hard work. Keaton starred in the opposite series Jim Belushi. Take a look back at this short, memorable project.


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What is ‘hard work’?

Jim Belushi and Michael Keaton as Ernie and Mike O'Rourke in hard work
Image via CBS

Hard work Follow the blue-collar brothers Ernie (Belushi) and Mike (Keaton) O’Rourke. Recently, these two were hired as janitors working in the office building owned by Uncle Harry. of Both are knuckleheads, but they aspire to work their way up the ladder in the corporate business world. Their life is not extravagant. They live in a storage room above a cafe owned by their friend Mitch Hannigan (Allan Arbus). The brothers are best friends with the cafe waitress, Nikki (Lorna Patterson), Ernie’s crush. While they hope to get a promotion and a raise, they get into various shenanigans and have a rivalry with their sleazy boss, Mr. Falzone (Phil Rubenstein).

The experiment of the period directed by the late great Penny Marshall In one of her first credited lead roles. Only four episodes made it to air on CBS in the fall of 1979. The show was unable to surpass the more popular TV shows it was competing with at the time, such as: Chips on NBC and The Ropers in ABC. Only nine episodes were produced in total before CBS canceled the series. However, due to the show’s popularity in later years, some unaired episodes would find their way to video and cable networks, such as A&E, Comedy Central, and TV Land.

Hard work A simple sitcom that is relatively straightforward, focusing more on slapstick and physical gag humor. While the show was not a success, Belushi and Keaton shared a solid comedic chemistry on screen. Their talent and intelligence is evident, and it is no surprise that both actors will have long and prosperous careers in the years to come. Keaton later became one of the biggest stars in the world with his debut Batman. After directing the pilot, Marshall enjoyed quite a career as a filmmaker. , classic guidance such as: Big, The awakeningAnd A league of its own. She later worked with Belushi again in 2009, directing episodes of the hit sitcom According to Jim.

Michael Keaton and Jim Belushi are a great comedic duo in ‘Working Stiffs’

Jim Belushi and Michael Keaton as Ernie and Mike O'Rourke in hard work
Image via CBS

What is clear from the pilot’s Hard work Belushi and Keaton have made a great comedic duo. Belushi’s Ernie is the straight man and self-aware of the group, although he is not as smart as he makes out. Keaton’s Mike acts as a very funny man and takes a lot of pratfalls as part of the duo. In the pilot’s opening scene, Mike fails miserably at moving a filing cabinet into a new office while Ernie is lugging it over his back like a backpack. The incident ends with a business executive slamming a clipboard into Mike’s hand, sending him spinning backwards through a wooden table.

The physical space continues during the pilot as Ernie and Mike climb across an incredible high-rise in a building to repair a broken light bulb in a clock embedded in the building’s exterior. In a scene that is certainly reminiscent of Harold Lloyd‘s The ultimate security!, Mike tries to repair the light bulb but is literally hanging for his life from the arm of a large clock. Keaton is not only a talented comedian, but a talented comedian as well, as he perfectly demonstrates in this role. For his part, Belushi also joined Keaton well in the watch scene, and the two played off each other incredibly well.

While the series is not very long, there are suggestions on the emotional side. The next episode that aired on CBS before the show’s cancellation featured a heavily pregnant Nikki, who was about to give birth after being dumped by her boyfriend. Ernie tries to propose to Nikki, but Nikki slowly discourages him, because it is not a good time for her to start dating or consider marriage again. The brothers are then left to help Nikki deliver her baby as they are left without an ambulance in the cafe overnight. After Nikki goes into labor, Mike is so distraught, he basically goes to war with the pay phones trying to call an ambulance. In these scenes, Keaton shows humorous, manic comedic energy. It was the same kind of manic energy that he displayed in his roles in the years to come. The compassion and concern that Ernie and Mike show their friend Nikki in this episode proves that while they are a pair of knuckleheaded dimwits, they do watch out for their friends, and they come through for Nikki when they need her the most. Ernie and Mike both have a loving side to their characters to go along with the physical gags and laughs.

Michael Keaton was widely known as a comedian before landing ‘Batman’

Michael Keaton as Beetlejuice in Beetlejuice
Image via Warner Bros.

Keaton is probably best known for his role as Batman. And recently, he has impressed audiences and critics alike with his remarkable transformation Birdman, FounderAnd Dopesick. Previously, however, Keaton often starred in straight, irreverent, or screwball comedies. Earlier in his career, Keaton made several guest appearances in sitcoms and television shows, such as: Mary Tyler Moore HourBefore leading his own short series Hard work and later Report to Murphy. In 1982, he got his first major motion picture role in the comedy Memorable. The Night Shift Opposite stars Henry Winkler. family comedy hit, Mr. Momfollowed in 1983. He would continue to act in comedies throughout the 1980s before forming a relationship with filmmaker Tim Burton for his new film, Honey, portrays an undead “biologist”, known as Betelgeuse, aka Beetlejuice. While technically not the leader of Honey, Keaton’s performance captivates audiences with its unique comedy-drama-comedy. The film was a huge hit and secured Burton as an actor to bring the famous DC Comics hero Batman to the big screen. back Hard workYou can see a similar kind of natural energy in Keaton’s performance that is also evident in his later works, such as The Night Shift, Honeyor even Diversity.

Keaton’s success as Beetlejuice and his relationship with Burton paid off, as it eventually led him to the beloved role of Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, in Burton’s 1989 film, which was a box office hit and a standout character for the superhero comic book genre. Interestingly, Keaton’s casting was controversial at the time. Many fans doubted whether Keaton could pull off the role due to his comedy-centric background, and there was backlash among fans due to his unconventional looks that fans felt did not fit the mold of what Batman or Bruce Wayne should be. Of course, Keaton and Burton will soon shatter those expectations Batman was released in theaters.

The return of the dark knight and the most spirit

Michael Keaton as Batman in 'The Flash'
Image via Warner Bros

Recently, Keaton returned to the role of Batman / Bruce Wayne in DC and Warner Bros. Discovery’s The Flash. The Flash It hasn’t been a big hit at the box office or with critics, but Keaton’s return as Batman is certainly one of the highlights of the film. Even while wearing a limited black rubber suit in his Batman performance, his unique sense of humor still shines through, and he commands attention in every scene in which he appears.

Batman isn’t the only iconic role from the Burton movies that Keaton is returning to. Production recently began in May for the long-awaited sequel Honey. Keaton is starring in the film in his iconic role as “The Ghost with the Most,” Beetlejuice, opposite the other returning cast members. Winona Ryder And Catherine O’Hara as Lydia and Delia Deetz. New cast members for the sequel include Willem Dafoe, Justin Theroux, Monica Bellucciwho was supposed to play Beetlejuice’s wife, and Scream Star franchise Jenna OrtegaWho is playing the daughter of Lydia Deetz.

Even at the age of 71, Keaton is not slowing down, and he still plays iconic roles. When will fans see him on the big screen again? Honey 2 Hits theaters on September 6, 2024.

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