Members of Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Theatricals found themselves in a bit of a quandary as they prepared to roast actress Jennifer Garner, their 2022 Woman of the Year, on Saturday night.
While with previous recipients the mockable material was plentiful — from poor movie ratings to questionable personal-life decisions — the show’s co-producers told the sold-out crowd at Farkas Hall that Garner’s squeaky-clean reputation is, in fact, authentic, which meant they had no material from which to draw for a roast.
“I mean, what are we supposed to say, that the Instagram videos of your dogs are only mildly entertaining? The homemade cookies that you made for essential workers last week were too dry? Save the Children sounds like a front for QAnon?” joked the emcees and co-producers, Molly Chiang and Lucy Goldfarb.
Despite the lack of anecdotes with which to skewer Garner, the students found a few ways to try to embarrass the evening’s honoree, including asking her about her first kiss.
While she didn’t say when it was, the 49-year-old actress said she remembered that “he tried to go further than a kiss. I swatted [him] away and then he broke up with me the next day because he said I was a prude – a badge I’ve worn proudly ever since.”
The “Alias” star, who will appear in the sci-fi film “The Adam Project” — to be released on Netflix March 11 — alongside Ryan Reynolds, Mark Ruffalo, and Zoe Saldana, was also handed a saxophone and asked to play for the audience.
Since the horn had no mouthpiece, she pretended to play it while a student in the orchestra pit generated the sound. Garner, who said she used to play the instrument, admitted to calling her long-lost woodwind, “Sally the Sexy Saxophone.”
After confronting several characters onstage, including “Lucifer Garner,” who lashed out at her alter ego for being so kind and generous, and “Tom Tom,” a mean girl character from “13 Going on 30,” Garner was awarded the coveted Pudding Pot.
“I am a devoted member of the Hasty Pudding club [and] I will be a nerd in the audience next year, “a cheery Garner told the audience after accepting the pot. “I promise and I’ll see you guys then.”
When asked at a post-ceremony press conference where she will put the pot, Garner, who has three children with ex-husband, Ben Affleck, joked: “Next to my bed? I don’t know. Where does one put something valued above their children?”
As the 72nd Woman of the Year, Garner joins a long list of honorees that includes Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Kerry Washington, Helen Mirren, and, most recently, Viola Davis.
On Thursday evening, “Ozark” star Justin Bateman — who played Garner’s husband in the 2007 film “Juno” — was honored with the Hasty Pudding Man of the Year Award.
Prior to the Saturday night ceremony, Garner met with students and had lunch with them at Harvest in Harvard Square before serving as the star attraction in a parade along Massachusetts Avenue. She waved from a red Bentley convertible to the hundreds of onlookers gathered in the freezing cold to catch a glimpse of her.
“This is unbelievable,” she called out to the crowd as the parade slowly proceeded and she waved her arms and danced to music from Harvard’s marching band. “This is the best day ever.”
Juliet Pennington can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.