What Are Harvard's Hasty Pudding Awards?

Harvard University is internationally renowned as among the premiere sources of higher education in the world. Its graduates in law, mathematics, political sciences, and other fields are forged from among the most rigorous and difficult coursework available, many going on to not only achieve a successful career in their chosen area of study, but often worldwide recognition and fame as well, as previous graduates of this private Ivy League university have included Theodore Roosevelt, Barack Obama, Al Gore, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, T. S. Eliot, Leonard Bernstein, Yo Yo Ma, Conan O’Brien, Jack Lemmon, Natalie Portman, Darren Aronofsky, Ted Kaczynski, W. E. B. Du Bois, and others.

With such bright intellectual minds in attendance among its student body, Harvard has not been without some of the most provocative, influential, and historic student organizations in academic history. Showing that such bright-brains are not without a highly stylized sense of humor, the Hasty Pudding Theatricals (informally known as simply The Pudding) was formed in 1795 as an artistic-minded fraternity, and serves as a theatrical student society that presents original student-written, student-composed, and student-performed musicals with production values nearing those of professional performance elsewhere.

Part of the inherent sustaining culture within The Pudding has been their intriguing dichotomy between preserving a nostalgically historic sensibility (all-male casts, live orchestra pit rather than digital recordings, etc.) and presenting the sharpest, most relevant, high-quality product possible. Classically presenting well-received comedies, they even resort to collegiate or anatomical humor, and the use of puns in evident in titles such as their 2010 production of Commie Dearest that followed Acropolis Now in 2009.

Every year, The Pudding presents a pair of honorary awards as an annual selection of famous actors, Woman of the Year (since 1951) and Man of the Year (since 1967). Although the recipients are always well-known, successful actors, the selection process may otherwise be considered arbitrary, as no formal selection process or criteria has been made public. However, nonetheless, recipients treat the award seriously and consider it an honor, so far historically attending every ceremony, at which they are treated to a celebratory “roast,” parade, and even the serving of hasty pudding.

Previous recipients have included Charlize Theron, Justin Timberlake, Halle Berry, Christopher Walken, Sandra Bullock, Robert Downey Jr., Cher, Martin Scorsese, Carol Channing, Bob Hope, Lauren Bacall, and Steve Martin. The Hasty Pudding Theatrical shows no signs of stopping, other than potential Harvard financial difficulty, and so the world’s elite and prestigious performers can further expect the annual possibility of being included on the esteemed list of receipients.

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