The Hybrid Game

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My old Chicago pal, Doug, was in New York for business this week and we got to catch up over dinner.  It had been so long since I’d seen him that I had almost forgotten that he’s a dead ringer for the actor Tony Goldwyn.  For years this meant that people would tell Doug that he looks just like the creepy guy from Ghost, as Tony Goldwyn played the villainous Carl in the 1990 weepie. Thanks to Shonda Rhimes’ Scandal, Doug is now mistaken for the fictitious President of the United States.  Talk about an upgrade!  (It must be said that Doug also reminded me that I once told him he had a pinch of Al Gore in him, too.  Sorry, Doug!)

Fast forward to this morning.  While sweating to the oldies at the gym, I caught a glimpse of a woman who looked very familiar to me.  When I finished my stint on the Elliptical, I maneuvered through the circuit training equipment so I could get a better look at her, slyly using the various mirrors that are ubiquitous at all gyms to check her out without being busted for doing so.  Did we go to high school together?  Nope.  Does she work in my office building?  I don’t think so.  Have I seen her in an off-Broadway play?  Doubtful.

And then it hit me.  I didn’t know her at all.  She only looked familiar to me because her face is the perfect hybrid of two actors.  She’s 50% Frances McDormand and 50% Willem Dafoe.  (Clearly, she is what one would call a handsome woman.)

These incidents reminded me that lately I’ve been neglecting one of my favorite pastimes: the Hybrid Game!

Although I have no delusions that we were the first ones to come up with this, my friend Liz and I initiated the Hybrid Game years ago when we were bored at a party and decided to kill time by coming up with look-alike celebrity combos for various party guests.  One of us would name the first half and the other had to complete it.  For example:

LIZ:   See that guy in the corner in the green sweater?  He’s half Nicolas Cage
ME:  And half Fred Savage.  (High five!  Nailed that one!)
LIZ:  Totally!

ME:  Check out the gal in the “Recycle” t-shirt and Doc Martens.  She’s half Linda Perry from Four Non Blondes…
LIZ:  And half the woman who coached girls’ basketball at my high school!
ME:  But, Liz, I don’t know what the woman who coached girls’ basketball at your high school looks like.
LIZ:  Puh-lease.  Any girls’ basketball coach at any high school.
ME:  Brilliant!

The game works best when the hybrid consists of two celebrities, because then anyone can play.  But with your close pals you can play the game using colleagues, friends and acquaintances:  she’s half Beverly from accounting…, he’s half the guy who tended bar at The Commons in college…, etc.

IMHO, hybrids work best when they’re truly 50/50, like the woman at the gym this morning.  Other percentages can work, too, like my aforementioned friend Doug who is 95% Tony Goldwyn and 5% Al Gore.  (Again, sorry, Doug!)  But math is hard, so I like to keep it simple.

Celebrities themselves are not immune to the hybrid treatment.  Leelee Sobieski, for example, is half Helen Hunt and half Evan Rachel WoodStephen Moyer is half Josh Brolin and half Heath Ledger.  Katherine Hahn is 85% Ana Gasteyer and 15% Brooke Shields.  (Damn… I broke my own math rule!)  You may disagree with these assessments, but spirited debate is half the fun of the Hybrid Game!

So the next time you’re a little bored at a concert or waiting in line at the DMV, comb the crowd for potential hybrids.  One word of warning: NEVER tell the person the hybrid you came up with for them.  A.) It makes them realize you were staring at them (creepy) and B.) they may not find your choices flattering.  I’m still in agony over being told once that I’m half Doug Savant and half Barry Manilow.


Which pair of celebrity look-alikes is your favorite?

Zooey Deschanel and Katy Perry

Jessica Alba and Vanessa Minnillo

Minka Kelly and Leighton Meester

America Ferrera and Jordin Sparks

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