The Hasty Pudding Theatrical Society held their annual award ceremony to celebrate their Man and Woman of the Year.
“The Hasty Pudding Theatricals’ Man and Woman of the Year Awards are presented annually to performers who have made lasting and impressive contributions to the world of entertainment,” according to the society’s press release.
On Feb. 2, Bob Odenkirk, known best for his role as Saul Goodman in “Better Call Saul” and “Breaking Bad,” was honored as the 56th Man of the Year. Two days later, on Feb. 4, Jennifer Coolidge, most recently notable for playing eccentric heiress Tanya McQuoid in “White Lotus,” became the 73rd Woman of the Year.
The Woman of the Year Award is Hasty Pudding Theatricals’ longest running award and was established in 1951, whereas the Man of the Year began in 1967, according to a press packet.
About five hours before Coolidge’s roast — the time where the event producers poke fun at the winners and present them with the Pudding Pot award — crowds of fans gathered in well below-freezing weather at Harvard Square to celebrate her in a parade.
“I just wanted to see her because I thought she’s really funny,” said Hannah Roberge, a development coordinator at Boston University.
Fans cheered as Coolidge rode atop a black Bentley convertible in a fuzzy, pink hat and faux leopard print coat.
Another Coolidge fan, Claire Wilson, who works in banking, said she found out about the event a week before and made plans to attend the parade with friends.
“I think she’s just very authentic and she’s a woman in comedy, which is cool,” Wilson said.
The Woman of the Year entered the auditorium with a standing ovation.
“It is an absolute dream for us to honor Jennifer Coolidge as our Woman of the Year on the heels of her recent accolades for The White Lotus,” Hasty Pudding producer Sarah Mann said in a press statement.
“We know our Pudding Pot will look phenomenal alongside her new Golden Globe.”
Before Coolidge earned her Pudding Pot, she was put in a dolphin suit that draped over her head, given a plastic water gun and tasked to shoot Hasty Pudding members who were dressed as stingrays.
“Please, please! These rays! They’re trying to kill me! These rays! These rays! Trying to murder me!” Coolidge yelled, as she was spraying water at them.
Coolidge accepted her award, teary-eyed, at the thought of her father, a former Harvard student, not being there to see her.
“I wish he was here,” she said. “This is … truly one of the greatest nights of my life because it just sort of came full circle.”
Two days earlier, The Man of the Year accepted his award wearing a pink dress that was much too small, while delivering a speech that had the audience laughing.
“As I’ve stated repeatedly throughout this speech, comedy and acting go hand in hand, like a pendulum swinging up and down, like a clock that’s broken but appears to work,” Odenkirk said.
In their press conferences, Coolidge and Odenkirk both reminisced on their times as young adults.
“I had big dreams,” Coolidge said. “College is such … an exhilarating time in your life, I think, to just feel the endless possibilities and I just remember how excited I was.”
Although he started as a comedy writer, Odenkirk said he realized acting in dramatic pieces also made audiences happy, which he didn’t think he could do.
“I had to think about it. I had to really notice it,” Odenkirk said. “Sometimes people don’t notice. They’re doing their thing that they’ve always loved, but maybe their talents are maybe a little adjacent.”
In the true spirit of Hasty Pudding Theatricals, the two actors posed with their Pudding Pots with Hasty Pudding members dressed in brightly-colored costumes on each side of them.
The honorees also spoke about hard times in their careers.
Coolidge talked about her experience as a waitress, where she documented the mean things people said to her.
“My favorite characters I play are wretched people,” she said.“I got amazing characters out of people I worked for.”
After Odenkirk’s heart attack in 2022, he said celebrations like these have become more special than ever before.
“I think that heart attack made me realize that we only have a limited time and it isn’t so bad sometimes to just sit back and enjoy,” he said. ”Look back with a smile and enjoy that you’ve gotten to be alive and do things.”