Favorite Fictional Characters, #384: Jim Brockmire
You may recall Hank Azaria from his turn as the Blue Rajah who wouldn't throw a knife on the under-the-radar superhero comedy "Mystery Men". Or, if you've of a certain vintage, as a supporting player on NBC's 90s sitcom "Mad About You". Most likely, you know him as the the improbably prolific vocal talent giving voice to dozens of denizens of Springfield on "The Simpsons".
Well, this isn't that Hank Azaria.
His character Brockmire, titular protagonist of the streaming series of the same name, is still funny, but it's a dark funny. The kind of funny that comes from watching a man seemingly safe in his lofty peak as a professional baseball announcer driven by the spectacular infidelities of his wife to a very public breakdown and a subsequent spiral of substance abuse, sex, and self-loathing. It's crass and unvarnished and hilarious. This last part is almost entirely because Azaria infuses his sodden cautionary tale with a battered yet intact charisma, a golden voice that somehow claws it's way back into baseball by virtue of a desperate and somehow unaged Amanda Peet, who recruits him to become the face and voice and Hail Mary gate draw for her shabby minor league franchise. Fresh off calling cockfights in MIlan, Brockmire gives it a shot. Well, shots, actually. Brockmire isn't so much frequently drunk as he is occasionally sober. Even so, he spins yarns and weaves metaphors that will yield belly laughs and even the occasional tear.
So much of the pleasure of Brockmire is watching him be so uniquely and unapologetically who he is. He knows he's not a good person. He knows he's not a role model. He's a selfish bastard, a hedonist, a loner. Despite that, he accumulates friends and lovers and an ancient pet tortoise, a cavalcade of characters many of whom are funny in their own right. But at the center is always Brockmire, never shutting up, never hoping to return to the big league booth he so cherishes, never getting out of his own way. It's a fun ride. Even without the heroin.