The Sweet Message in Jason Sudeikis’s Jumbled Golden Globes Speech

split-screen-content-header__hed” data-testid=”ContentHeaderHed”>The Sweet Message in Jason Sudeikis’s Jumbled Golden Globes Speech

“The Three Questions.” Leo Tolstoy. Aunt Loretta. A tie-dyed hoodie. Let’s decode what it all means. 

March 1, 2021

Gif by Peter Marquez/GIFRIENDS.

Jason Sudeikis knew his speech was a little disjointed. Maybe more than a little. 

As he neared the end of his Golden Globes remarks after winning best TV comedy actor for Ted Lasso, he only got more frazzled. “I gotta wrap this puppy up. Never been my forte. A little windy, as my Aunt Loretta would say.”

What had flowed out of him before left fellow nominees like Eugene Levy and Ramy Youssef with perplexed perma-smiles, and viewers were probably equally befuddled. Maybe Sudeikis was merely feeling good at a remote ceremony that even under normal circumstances encourages imbibing and partaking. Or maybe speeches really aren’t his thing. Either way, Ted Lasso was a glimmer of joy in a bleak time, so we’ll cut him some slack. 

Still, when he brought up a story called “The Three Questions,” it probably left viewers with several more questions. Let’s dissect what he said, and explain what he was actually trying to say. (It’s worth it.)

“That’s nuts,” Sudeikis said, somewhat flatly, after learning he was the winner. “This is, for me, the coolest thing that a group of, you know, like, that’s nuts…. Especially…that’s crazy. Okay, umm. Wow.”

He was most likely expressing thanks to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, but remember: it is the HFPA, a dubious organization slammed repeatedly during its own show for lack of inclusivity in its own ranks. So the tempered enthusiasm, the halting gratitude—it’s understandable. Here’s where things get a bit more inscrutable.

“Here’s what I’ll say. I’ll say this,” Sudeikis said, rallying his focus. “I read this book to my son Otis called ‘The Three Questions,’ by Leo Tolstoy. He has these three questions, like, When’s the best time to do things? What is the right thing to do? And then, Who is the most important one?”

This is a short story that has become popular reading material for parents of young kids. (It’s also only two pages long, which is perfect for bedtimes.) Published by Tolstoy in 1898, it’s a parable about a king who thinks that if he has the answer to three questions he will succeed at everything he tries to do.

Sudeikis scrambled the questions, though. The actual questions are, roughly, When is the right time to begin something? Who are the right people to listen to, and who should be avoided? And, What is the most important thing a person should do? You can read a free translation of the story here.

The king doesn’t feel any of his advisers have the solution, since they find his questions too vague. He ends up going to a hermit with his query. “I have come to you, wise hermit, to ask you to answer three questions: How can I learn to do the right thing at the right time? Who are the people I most need, and to whom should I, therefore, pay more attention than to the rest? And, what affairs are the most important and need my first attention?”

The hermit doesn’t answer, so the king helps him with his digging work in the hope he will get an answer from the frail old-timer. A wounded man comes to them, and the king helps bandage him. It turns out the injured man is an enemy of the king who had come to assassinate him, but because of the king’s kindness, he now pledges his allegiance.

The moral of the story is to live in the present, be kind at all times, and always treat people around you as important. Had the king not helped with the digging he would have been ambushed by the assassin. Instead, he turned the enemy into a friend through his thoughtfulness.

“There is only one time that is important,” the hermit reveals. “And that is now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power. The most necessary man is he with whom you are, for no man knows whether he will ever have dealings with any one else. And the most important thing to do is, to do good, because for that purpose alone was man sent into this life!”

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