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With the release of Forgetting Sarah Marshall this weekend, Jason Segel makes the leap from lowly cog in Judd Apatow’s comedy machine to leading man. If you only know Segel from How I Met Your Mother — on which he plays a watered-down version of Nick Andopolis, his harmless, sensitive character in Freaks and Geeks — or his bit part in Knocked Up as a smarmy, vaguely creepy ladies’ man, it’s an inauspicious occasion. But if you, like us, remember him from Undeclared, Apatow’s other short-lived TV comedy series, it’s cause for celebration.
As Eric, the unhinged copy-shop manager, Segel was psychopathic, preposterous, and perfect. He was technically a secondary character, but his primary subplot — a running feud with main character Steven, who was desperately in love with Eric’s girlfriend, Lizzie — was responsible for many of Undeclared’s finest moments. Apatow & Co. recognized Segel’s virtuoso talent as well, turning the show’s final episode over to Eric’s point of view. So, on the eve of Segel’s potential star-making moment, we present this YouTube tribute to his greatest role to date. —Amos Barshad
1. Eric’s Idea
Lizzie and Eric were a long-distance couple; he lived in town, a short car ride away from the campus of the fictional UNEC. So, initially, Segel stole scenes just through inane telephone conversations. Here, he explains to Lizzie his concept for a new kind of World Wide Web: “My Internet will be for people who might not have computers, and we’ll mail you your e-mail through your regular mail!”
Lizzie sleeps with Steven on the first day of school. When Eric first finds out, he rallies his pudgy copy-shop crew to inflict damage on the interloper. Watch till the end, when the sounds of Mystikal’s forgotten 2000 smash “Danger (Been So Long)” gets the boys juiced. “Danger, Steven Karp! Danger! Ahh!”
3. “How Was Sexual Intercourse With My Girlfriend, Steven?”
From Segel, deadpan, throwing down the gauntlet (“How was sexual intercourse with my girlfriend, Steven?”) to his terrible scooter-chase taunts (“Bad little boys have to pay the piper,” “Nice try, you cuckolding jerk!” etc.), the initial confrontation is about as perfectly unglamorous as any schoolyard tussle you’ve ever seen.
4. The Fight
“Come on, start it up,” a bandanna-clad Eric tells Steven, eschewing his staple gun for a good old-fashioned fistfight. “You touched my girlfriend, why don’t you touch me?” Then, immediately after chipping Steven’s tooth, Eric, in near hysterics, pleads for forgiveness.
5. The Evite
From the last episode, in which Eric makes a last-ditch effort to win back now ex-girlfriend Lizzie. YouTube, tragically, doesn’t have the clip where Eric brags about how Lizzie responds to his birthday-party invitation with a phone call (“And that’s from a group Evite, bitch!”). But this clip, featuring Segel explaining Lizzie’s alternate response options (“Dude, she didn’t even have to call me! She could have just clicked yes next to ‘Are you coming?’!”) is almost as good. Jason Segel’s Five Greatest ‘Undeclared’ Moments