Rarely do we see a comedic talent so fully realized at such a young age, but Arrested Development fans witnessed it firsthand in the acting chops of Alia Shawkat. (She was also the very first person cast in the series.) Alia landed many roles since and with them solidified her status as a fantastic comedy actor.
Before you catch Alia as one of Carrie’s new kids on tonight’s brand new Portlandia, check out her five funniest roles to date. (Click here to find IFC on your TV in your area.)
1. Maeby Fünke, Arrested Development
She may have gotten her start with a small role in David O. Russell’s Three Kings, but the world got to know Alia Shawkat from her breakthrough role as Maeby Fünke, arguably the sanest and most self-aware member of the dysfunctional Bluth clan. Quick with a ruse and a quip, Maeby had her family figured out practically from birth — even if the makeout sessions with her step-cousin gave her pause.
2. Adele, Broad City
Perfectly cast as Ilana Glazer’s doppelganger (co-star Abbi Jacobson even mistook Glazer for Shawkat when they first met in improv class), Alia plays the sexually charged counterpart to Ilana’s free-wheelin’ libido. Their whirlwind hookup hits a rough patch, however, when they don’t share the same enthusiasm for making out with oneself, and their differing stance on marijuana is the final nail.
3. Frances Cleveland, Drunk History
Mixing middle school social studies with a detox center, Derek Waters’ Comedy Central series retells historical events through the glazed eyes and slurred speech of drunk comedians. In the episode focusing on First Ladies, Shawkat plays Grover Cleveland’s wife Frances Folsom who championed a feminist movement in the late-1800s and used her public profile to promote jobs for women.
4. Bree, Cedar Rapids
The 2011 comedy Cedar Rapids starring Ed Helms, John C. Reilly, and Anne Heche features Shawkat as a sex worker who frequents business conventions for hot-to-trot johns. The role stands in stark contrast to the mostly wholesome yet acerbic Maeby and might be jarring for those who only know her from Arrested Development. But after her first sarcastic comment, the similarities become pretty evident.
5. Herself, Getting Doug With High
Unlike her character in Broad City, Alia enjoys partaking in the occasional toke in real life and did so alongside comedian Doug Benson and actor Aubrey Plaza for Benson’s online weed series, Getting Doug With High. Watching the trio hang out, chat, and joke around, viewers got a true sense of Shawkat’s affable and funny self that she brings to the table for each role.
Watch Alia as one of Carrie’s new kids in a clip from this week’s Portlandia.