Through it’s first three episodes, Barry, the new comedy on HBO starring and created by Bill Hader, has been nothing short of entertaining. So far it’s lived up to the hype and promise and delivered a smart, dark comedy that features one great performance after another. Hader will get most of the attention because he’s the star and deserves all the credit you can heap on him and it’s worth it. His Barry is wonderfully tortured and put-upon and beleaguered. He’s also hopeful and naive, making him uniquely sympathetic. He is a professional killer after all. Not exactly someone you’re eager to dish out to sympathy too.
The other stand-outs are Henry Winkler as the name-dropping acting teacher, Barry’s business partner and mentor Stephen Root and Sarah Goldberg, who plays Barry’s love interest and acting mentor Sally.
But I’m not here to talk about those people. They’re fine; wonderful people doing wonderful work. I’m here to talk about the real star of Barry, the one who makes me laugh the hardest and the one who I’m waiting to show up whenever he’s not on screen.
I’m here to talk about NoHo Hank.
That dude is the real star of Barry.
NoHo Hank is a lieutenant of the Chechen boss Goran and got into the mix when the Chechen’s enlisted Barry to take out a fella who was sleeping with Goran’s wife. Things get a little weird from there, but thankfully, NoHo Hank isn’t a one and done character. He’s popped up in each of the first three episodes, providing levity to scenes that otherwise could get dark quickly or at the very least, serve as exposition dumps.
That’s short-changing the pure delight that is NoHo Hank though because that dude, played by Anthony Carrigan, deserves more. As Goran’s number two, NoHo Hank is tasked with prepping Barry on the initial job and then handling the clean-up when things take a unexpected turn. He’s what I can only imagine is a rare bird in the world of Chechen-based organized crime. Unfailingly polite and accommodating, he’ll take the time to ask about your day before making it clear that he’s going to kill you.
And he does it with a smile on his face. What a peach.
NoHo Hank is also rolling with the wide-eyed optimism and enthusiasm of a five year old who got to go to work with their parent for the day. He’s all-in, eager to please and lend a hand. He’s also a sucker for a good long game, especially when it comes to laying waste to a cross-town rival.
Because that’s what is missing in the sorted world of organized crime, a little bit of drama and showmanship. NoHo Hank gets that. Does it matter that the plan might be a bit too much, a little too much pomp given the circumstance? Yeah, maybe. But whatever. I’m in because NoHo Hank is all in.
I’m also a big fan of his text message game, especially the part where he texts something super incriminating and then politely asks you to delete that super incriminating text. NoHo Hank is here for the dotting of the i’s and the crossing of the t’s.
From a big picture standpoint, the existence of character like NoHo Hank is a welcome sign and a good indicator that the team behind Barry, Hader and his co-creator Alex Berg, can pull this off. It’s one thing to create a show with strong central characters, but especially in comedy, surrounding the central characters with colorful cats like NoHo Hank lingering and operating on the edges is what can seal the deal.
Dude has killer style too.