During a recent interview, Michael Showalter at times seemed as socially uncomfortable as the character he plays in his frothy new comedy, "The Baxter," an ode to the romantically challenged.
Although casually dressed in jeans and a blue knitted shirt, he spoke formally and sat rigidly in his chair in the lobby of Le Meridien hotel. He squeezed the black straw that came with his iced coffee, pulverizing it into a lump. He rubbed his temples and placed a hand on his chest, sighing deeply.
"If I'm coming across awkwardly," he said, "I guess my 'Baxterness' is coming out."
The 35-year-old single Jewish actor-writer-director invented the word, "Baxter," to refer to the character who never gets the girl in romantic comedies. He is the guy who has few social graces, two left feet, and not a clue of how to deliver the witty repartee that comes so effortlessly to, say, Cary Grant.
Think John Howard's character in "The Philadelphia Story," Woody Allen in "Crimes and Misdemeanors" and Albert Brooks in "Broadcast News."