The Art of Self-Parody

A mark of a true actor is someone who can play a part that is the absolute furthest thing from them. But sometimes an actor’s best performance is when they play themselves. Granted, an extreme, over-the-top version of themselves.

They make fun of their previous work and even their public persona. This is called a self-parody. Here are a few of the most hilarious self-parodies that we as a human race have been graced with.

In no particular order:


Former child star Neil Patrick Harris has had a career resurrection ever since he started starring in popular sitcom How I Met Your Mother as the legendary womaniser Barney Stinson. But perhaps his best comedic role of recent times has been – Neil Patrick Harris.

In the credits of the Harold and Kumar series, it says “Neil Patrick Harris as Neil Patrick Harris” and not “Neil Patrick Harris as himself” because he is playing such an extreme version of himself who enjoys drugs, female hookers (he’s gay for that pussy) and alcohol etc.

Even though he has not turned out to be a washed up has-been like so many other child-stars in real life, this version of him is a hilarious glimpse into what could have been.


Bill Murray has been keeping audiences entertained for years. He has starred in some comedic classics such as Ghostbusters, Caddyshack and Groundhog Day. But in 2009 we were treated to Mr. Murray playing himself in the zombie comedy (zommedy?) Zombieland.

Bill Murray does what he needs to do to survive. And when the zombie apocalypse arrives, he dresses up as a zombie and blends in. Classic Murray. When Woody Harrelson and co. enters his mansion, he welcomes them with some Murray charm, they smoke marijuana and even do Ghostbusters re-enactments. Good times.

Murray attempts to scare Jesse Eisenberg’s character by pretending to be a zombie. It’s all very funny until Eisenberg shoots him and he dies – very, very slowly. He survives long enough to say he regrets having done Garfield and then takes his last (and very long) breath. There is even an end credits scene because there is no such thing as too much Bill Murray.

“I don’t believe you should make fun of anyone but yourself.” 

– Cameron Diaz

Matt Damon has played some serious roles – some would say he’s a serious actor. But from time to time he tends not to take himself so seriously. I couldn’t believe he was the lead singer of that band in the movie Eurotrip. However, he demonstrated his lack of seriousness best when he parodied himself in two different shows.


In Entourage he plays Matt Damon: actor and intense philanthropist – like intense. Shaming star Vincent Chase to fork over more money and even teaming up with Le Bron James and Bono to guilt-trip Vince into being more generous. To give to the less fortunate and to not be such a pussy.

Matt Damon played a different version of himself in House of Lies: a swag-whore (his words, not mine) who gets high, asks for sexual favours and flaunts his fame around in the clubs. He also dabbles in practical jokes and almost gets Don Cheadle severely beaten up by a bouncer. But to be fair, he’s still a philanthropist – sort of. I like to think that these versions of Matt Damon actually exist – but they’re probably just awesome self-parodies.


Don’t Trust The B* in Apartment 23 is a very average sitcom. It has its moments, but hands down the best part of the show is James Van Der Beek’s hilarious performance as James Van Der Beek. Many fans agree that he should just have his own show altogether. His comedic timing is spot on and he clearly has no problem poking fun at himself.

Best known for being “the Beek from the Creek”, in this show Van Der Beek coasts on his former stardom by doing all the things former stars tend to do to stay relevant: Dancing with the Stars, starting a line of super-tight jeans, endorsing Vietnamese energy drinks, etc. I would go on, but you’re not really paying attention to this post anymore. You’re too busy humming the tune from Dawson’s Creek. Carry on.

If you enjoyed this and would like to add some other awesome self-parodies, please do so in the comments section. Also, share the love on twitter and facebook.

About the Author: Dean Ravell is a co-founder of BTG Lifestyle and does a killer Dean Ravell impression. A truly believable one. He is also a swag-whore.

Dean Ravell

Writer/director. Fascinated with all kinds of film and just wants to be part of the wonderful world of cinema.


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