TIME celebrities

Rebel Wilson: ‘Bigger Girls Do Better in Comedy’

"Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb" Australian Premiere - Arrivals
Rebel Wilson arrives at the Australian premiere of Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb on Dec. 19, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Don Arnold—Getty Images/WireImage

She's set to reprise a character named "Fat Amy" in the upcoming Pitch Perfect 2

Rebel Wilson isn’t shy about addressing her weight – in fact, she views her shape as an asset.

“I took something that was seen as a disadvantage – no one thinks, if you’re fat, that you’re going to be an actress and everyone’s going to love you – and turned it into a positive,” she told Australia’s Daily Life.

Wilson, 28, believes her physique works especially well for comedic roles. She’s set to reprise a character named “Fat Amy” in the upcoming Pitch Perfect 2.

“Bigger girls do better in comedy,” she said. “I don’t know why. Maybe because people find it easier to laugh. It’s very hard to laugh at someone who’s very attractive, I think. And normally those people don’t have a great personality anyway.”

The Bridesmaids star (who also holds a law degree!) adds that she has no plans to slim down.

“I do have these dreams, like, ‘What if I just went to a health farm and lost 50 kilos? What would happen? Would it affect my career?’ But then I think, that’s never going to happen.”

This article originally appeared on People.com.

TIME Comedy

Watch Louis C.K. Take On Babies and Gay Marriage in His New Stand-Up Special

The comedian has a few thoughts about babies.

Louis C.K.’s new stand-up special isn’t available yet, but you can watch the first four minutes of “Live at the Comedy Store” now.

The four-minute clip revolves around everyone’s favorite airplane companions: babies. After a recent travel experience, C.K. finally figured out why so many babies spend their time on airplanes crying. The cause? According to C.K., “they are upset because gay people are getting married.”

To be clear, C.K. doesn’t agree with their temper tantrums, because love is love and babies are selfish. “I think if people are in love, they should get married,” he clarified. “But they can’t accept that. They’re just being babies.”

As he has done for the past few years, the comedian is making his latest comedy hour available to stream and/or download on his website for just $5.

[Via Uproxx]

TIME viral

Watch John Oliver Audition for 50 Shades of Grey

"It hurts not to have even been asked," Oliver says

Before Last Week Tonight ends it hiatus next month, John Oliver took to YouTube on Sunday night to half-heartedly apologize to 50 Shades of Grey star Jamie Dornan for perpetuating the #NotMyChristian hashtag.

“Now look, I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my incredibly accurate evaluation of a casting choice for a movie whose target audience, going by the trailer, seems to be suburban mothers of three who have somehow never had sex before,” Oliver began, bemoaning Hollywood’s safe choice of casting an actor “who specifies in handsome” rather than make a more daring choice.

MORE: How the John Oliver Effect Is Having a Real-Life Impact

Namely, a spectacled British comedian.

“It hurts not to have even been asked,” Oliver said, before launching into a passionate audition “for a movie that has already been made from a book I’ve never read.”

Luckily for Oliver, Fifty Shades is a trilogy.

See the full clip below.

TIME Television

1,200 Ticket Refunds Requested for Bill Cosby’s Denver Shows

Comedian Bill Cosby performs at The Temple Buell Theatre in Denver, Colo. on Jan. 17, 2015.
Comedian Bill Cosby performs at The Temple Buell Theatre in Denver, Colo. on Jan. 17, 2015. Barry Gutierrez—Reuters

Returnees amount to 40% of the tickets sold

A total of 1,200 ticket-holders requested refunds for two Bill Cosby comedy shows held in Denver, Colo., last week.

Around 3,100 tickets were originally sold to the event, meaning nearly 40% of those purchased were returned, according to the Denver Post.

Cosby, 77, was not heckled or harassed despite dozens of protesters outside his Jan. 17 gig, chanting phrases like, “rape is not a joke.”

The comedian has been embroiled in controversy since November after more than 15 women claimed he drugged and sexually abused them on various occasions spanning the last 40 years. Cosby has denied all accusations and has not been charged with a crime.

[Denver Post]

TIME celebrities

Hecklers Shout ‘We Believe the Women’ at Bill Cosby Show

The comedian urged calm and told security to "let them have their say"

About 30 protesters disrupted Bill Cosby’s show in Ontario Friday night, chanting, “We believe the women,” in reference to the multiple sexual assault allegations against the comedian.

Cosby had been onstage in Hamilton, Ontario for about five minutes when around 30 women rose from their seats and took off their coats to reveal white T-shirts that said “we believe the women.” Some blew whistles and shouted at the comedian. Cosby urged security not to arrest the protesters, saying, “Stop, let them have their say,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Supporters of the comedian responded with shouts of “we believe the men” and “we love you Bill.” The show continued after the demonstration and Cosby received a standing ovation from the remaining audience members.

MORE: Everything you need to know about the Bill Cosby scandal

More than 15 women have come forward to accuse Cosby of sexual assault. The 77-year old comedian has denied all allegations through his lawyers. In 2006, Cosby settled a lawsuit out of court, brought by a woman who claimed he had drugged and molested her. The comedian has never been charged for any of the alleged assaults.

TIME France

Watch Jon Stewart’s Take on the Charlie Hebdo Killings

The comedian comes out for "Team Civilization"

On Wednesday night’s episode of The Daily Show, host Jon Stewart addressed the terrorist attack on the Paris offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead, including eight journalists. Though the comedian is known for his own satirical spin on the news, Stewart was serious and straight-faced while discussing the attack.

“I know very few people go into comedy as an act of courage, mainly because it shouldn’t have to be that,” the comedian said. “It shouldn’t be an act of courage, it should be taken as established law. But those guys at Hebdo had it and they were killed for their cartoons.”

“A stark reminder that for the most part the legislators and journalists and institutions that we jab and ridicule are not in any way the enemy. For however frustrating or outraged the back and forth can become it’s still back and forth, a conversation amongst those on let’s call it ‘Team Civilization.’ And this type of violence only clarifies that reality.”

TIME celebrities

Stephen Fry Is Getting Married

"The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies" - World Premiere - Red Carpet Arrivals
Stephen Fry attends the World Premiere of "The Hobbit: The Battle OF The Five Armies" at Odeon Leicester Square in London on Dec. 1, 2014. Fred Duval—FilmMagic/Getty Images

Good news for the actor and his partner

The British writer, comedian, actor and famed Twitter user Stephen Fry is getting married. The 57-year-old actor has given the formal notice to wed his partner, 27-year-old Elliott Spencer, at a registry office in east England, not far from where Fry grew up.

After a British tabloid ran a story about the notice, Fry took to Twitter — where he has more eight million followers — to confirm the happy news.

Fry has long been a prominent advocate of same-sex marriage and in 2013 hosted a BBC documentary on attitudes to homosexuality around the world.

A personal assistant for the comedian told the BBC, “Stephen Fry is very happy and proud to say that he has set the wheels in motion for a wedding sometime in the future but no date has been set due to a busy work schedule.”

[BBC]

TIME Opinion

‘Offensive’ Is the New ‘Obscene’

LENNY BRUCE AT AIRPORT
Lenny Bruce, refused entry to Britain earlier in the day "in the public interest," makes a V-sign as he leaves U.S. customs office after returning to New York's Idlewild Airport on Apr. 8, 1963. John Lindsay—AP Photo

50 years after Lenny Bruce's sentencing, the world is still deciding what a comedian is allowed to say on stage

Reading about Lenny Bruce’s arrest for obscenity 50 years ago makes me think about a popular sketch Amy Schumer recently did on her Comedy Central show. On Dec. 21, 1964, Bruce was sentenced to four months in a workhouse for a set he did in a New York comedy club that included a bit about Eleanor Roosevelt’s “nice tits,” another about how men would like to “come in a chicken,” and other scatological and overly sexual humor.

How does this relate to Amy Schumer? In the sketch called “Acting Off Camera,” Schumer signs up to do the voice of what she thinks will be a sexy animated character, because Jessica Alba and Megan Fox are doing the voices of her friends. When she arrives to work she sees that her character is an idiotic meerkat who defecates continuously, eats worms and has her vagina exposed. She says to her agent, “My character has a pussy.” Schumer is the first woman to say that word on Comedy Central without being censored, a right she fought for. Her struggle was commended by the press for advancing feminism because the word had been banned even though four-letter words for male genitalia were given the O.K.

A word that could have landed Bruce in the slammer 50 years ago is now available for public consumption, and its inclusion into the cuss-word canon is applauded. These days each of George Carlin’s “seven words” seems quaint. There is nothing so raunchy, so profane or so over-the-top that it could land a comedian in jail.

However, they have other reasons to censor themselves — namely Twitter.

The most dangerous thing that a comedian has to face today is offending political correctness or saying something so racist or sexist that it kicks up an internet firestorm. In 2012, Daniel Tosh made a rape joke at a comedy club, which everyone on the internet seemed to have an opinion about. Many were offended and he later apologized for the joke. Just last month comedian Artie Lang tweeted a sexist slavery fantasy about an ESPN personality and was met with harsh criticism. Saturday Night Live writer and performer Leslie Jones, a black woman, also took heat for making jokes about slavery; her critics said they were offensive, but she defended her comments, claiming they were misunderstood. Most of this exchange took place on Twitter.

This is a common cycle these days and one that can derail a comedian’s career (just look at what happened to Seinfeld alum Michael Richards after his racist rant became public). It’s also something that comedians are hyper-aware of. “I stopped playing colleges, and the reason is because they’re way too conservative,” Chris Rock said in a recent interview in New York magazine (referring to over-prudence, not political ideology). “Kids raised on a culture of ‘We’re not going to keep score in the game because we don’t want anybody to lose.’ Or just ignoring race to a fault. You can’t say ‘the black kid over there.’ No, it’s ‘the guy with the red shoes.’ You can’t even be offensive on your way to being inoffensive.” In a world where trigger warnings are becoming popular, how can a comedian really push the envelope?

In the interview, Rock says this policing of speech and ideas leads to self-censorship, especially when he’s trying out new material. He says that comedians used to know when they went too far based on the audience reaction within a room; now they know they’ve gone too far based on the reaction of everyone with an Internet connection. Now the slightest step over the line could land a comedian not in the slammer but in a position like Bill Maher’s, where students demanded he not be able to speak at Berkeley because of statements he made about Muslims.

That’s the difference between Lenny Bruce and someone like Leslie Jones. A panel of judges decided that Bruce should face censorship because of what he said. Now Leslie Jones gets called out, but the public is the judge. Everyone with a voice on the internet can start an indecency trial and let the public decide who is guilty and to what degree. (The funny truth is, depending on whom you follow on Twitter, the party is usually universally guilty or universally innocent.)

What hasn’t changed as we’ve shifted from “obscene” to “offensive” is just how unclear the scenario could be. The Supreme Court famously refused to define “obscene” but instead said they know it when they see it. The same is true of “offensive.” One comedian can make a joke about race or rape and have it be fine, another can make a joke on the same subject matter and be the victim of a million blog posts. There was even an academic study to determine which strategies were most effective for making jokes about race.

Whenever one of these edgy jokes makes the news, a rash of comedians come to defend not the joke, necessarily, but that the person has the right to tell it in the first place. The same thing happened at Bruce’s trial when Woody Allen, Bob Dylan, Norman Mailer and James Baldwin all showed up to testify on Bruce’s behalf. Bruce never apologized for what he said. Though he passed away before his appeal could make its way through the courts, he received a posthumous pardon in 2003. Then-Governor of New York George Pataki noted that the pardon was a reminder of the importance of the First Amendment.

In 50 years a lot has changed, but comedy, like the First Amendment, really hasn’t. There are always going to be people pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable, because that’s what we find funny. What has changed is who is policing that acceptability — and that makes a big difference. We no longer have too-conservative judges enforcing “community standards” about poop jokes, telling people like Lenny Bruce that they can’t say one thing or another. Instead, today’s comedians are policed by the actual community, using the democratic voices of the Internet and social media to communicate about standards around race, religion, sexuality, gender and identity. The community doesn’t say comedians can’t offend, but that they’ll face consequences if they do. Their First Amendment rights are preserved and, though it may get in the way of the creative processed once used by people like Chris Rock, online feedback can often lead to productive conversations.

In a world where nothing is obscene, it doesn’t mean that things can’t be offensive, as murky as both those ideas might be. At least we’ve taken the government out of comedy, which seems to be safer for everyone. Now they can stick to dealing with the important things, like Janet Jackson’s nipple.

Read TIME’s original coverage of Lenny Bruce’s conviction, here in the archives: Tropic of Illinois

TIME Parenting

Watch a ‘Doctors Without Borders’ Parody That’s All About Your Mom

Help is on the way

There’s a new parody of Doctors Without Borders, and they’re almost as helpful as the real ones. They’re not curing Ebola, but they’re doing something that promotes mental health: teaching moms how to talk to their adult daughters without being passive-aggressive. This hilarious spoof of a Doctors Without Borders PSA tells adult women not to worry, because help is on the way. Soon, the world will be free of veiled hostility and judgment of your life choices.

The video contains some NSFW language, but you can watch it here.

Made by the group COMICS4MSF, the YouTube description says it was screened at a Doctors Without Borders fundraiser, even though the comedians are not affiliated with the organization. It features Jena Friedman, who’s also a field producer for The Daily Show.

(Visit the Doctors Without Borders site to learn more about their life-saving work around the world.)

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