Liam Neeson Reading Bedtime Stories Is Weirder Than It Is Funny

Our foremost action dad is too good for self-mockery.

Jimmy Kimmel‘s Liam Neeson reads bedtime stories skit was premised on the idea that having a tough guy read children’s stories would leverage cognitive dissonance into humor. It didn’t work – though it didn’t exactly not work either. The bit is funny, but not in an ironic way, in a really unnerving way. Here’s why: Liam Neeson has so much gravitas that even when he’s pretending not to have gravitas, he has the most gravitas of anyone in the room (this is particularly true of rooms containing Mr. Kimmel). At the beginning of the bit, when he’s speaking in a singsong, he still looks like an intimidating dude. Later on, he becomes an intimidating dude speaking in a normal tone of voice. Not a lot of difference there. You could make Charles Bronson inhale helium, but he would still be Charles Bronson.

And that’s why the skit is so interesting; it illustrates what makes Neeson different than other stars. The tough-guy act isn’t a put on. Neeson is a tough guy. He’s self contained and strong. He has that voice. He’s felt loss. He is, in short, no one’s sidekick. Kids should find that reassuring. We do.