Claire Danes realized Harvard was home not just to bookworms but also to drag queens on Thursday during the Hasty Pudding Theatricals’ 2012 Woman of the Year celebration.
“This is so contrary to what we associate with Harvard,” said Danes, who described the experience as “wackadoodle” and “utterly trippy.”
Danes, a versatile actress who has appeared in films like “Romeo + Juliet” and theater productions like “Pygmalion,” was named the Hasty Pudding’s Woman of the Year after winning a 2012 Golden Globe Award for her role on the television series “Homeland.” With that award, Danes now has three Golden Globes, an Emmy, and a Screen Actors Guild Award under her belt, in addition to the Pudding Pot that the Hasty Pudding Theatricals bestowed upon her on Thursday in Farkas Hall.
But the Hasty Pudding Theatricals did not simply hand over the Pudding Pot to the actress. Danes, a Yale dropout, had to prove herself worthy of the award by completing a series of tasks—including a recital of a faux-Elizabethan monologue about genitals and a dance-off with a virus.
The two emcees, Hasty Pudding Theatricals president James P. Fitzpatrick ’12 and vice president Ryan P. Halprin ’12, were not shy about bashing Harvard’s Connecticut rival during their roast of Danes. Fitzpatrick said that the two years Danes spent at Yale is “a normal amount of time to spend at a community college.”
The emcees demanded that Danes earn her overdue college degree before receiving the award. The first course she had to pass was English.
One member of the Pudding, dressed as Shakespeare, mentioned Danes’ appearance in the play “Vagina Monologues” before asking her to recite a speech like those in that play. After she repeated his poem, which began with “To be or not to be, an angry lesbian,” he declared her a master of the English language.
He said, “English is not the same as math, as you have seen in Romeo plus Juliet,” referring to the 1996 movie in which she played the Shakespearean heroine alongside Leonardo DiCaprio’s Romeo.
In the consequent classes, including biology and computer science, Danes encountered a cow from “Temple Grandin,” her 2010 HBO TV movie, and a virus carrying a dance fever that challenged Danes to a dance-off—all of which were played by Hasty Pudding Theatricals members.
After Danes passed her classes, Yale’s mascot Handsome Dan, played by Matthew J. DaSilva ’12, presented Danes with her degree. When Halprin questioned whether Danes really deserved the diploma, DaSilva said, “Are you kidding me? We let just about anyone get a degree from Yale.”
Prior to the roast, Danes paraded down Massachusetts Avenue alongside the cross-dressed Fitzpatrick and Halprin in a blue Bentley convertible. Spectators lined up on the street to get a glimpse of the actress as she travelled to Farkas Hall to receive her Pudding Pot.
“You should be studying, all of you,” Danes said to the crowd.
As the car made a turn to Holyoke St., three members of the Porcellian Club tossed a stuffed pig out the window of their clubhouse. During a press conference afterward, Danes said that was her favorite part of the day.
“I actually collect stuffed pigs,” she said.
Despite the jabs about her college experience, Danes said she had a great day.
“This experience will remain forever emblazoned in my mind,” Danes said.
—Staff writer Jane Seo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.