Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Rebel without a laugh

Boy, here’s one I just don’t get.   How does Rebel Wilson have this big career and keep getting gig after gig?   I see she’s hosting some stupid dog show on NBC now.  And I see her on commercials.  

Other than being mildly amusing in PITCH PERFECT, I have never found her funny.  

I know she was a big deal in Australia, but somehow crossing the Pacific she lost something.

ABC gave her her own sitcom a few years back, SUPER FUN NIGHT.  She starred and controlled the writing.  It was truly terrible.   She was given the creative control that few actors ever enjoy.  Why???  Based on what?  

And look at the results.  

But that didn’t slow down her career for some reason.  She did a number of movies where she wasn't funny.  I thought, “Okay, maybe it’s just me.”  So I started asking friends, both in the business and not, whether they liked Rebel Wilson.  None of them did.  Not one.  Yes, it’s a small sample size, but none is none.  

Now she may be a lovely person.  I’ve never met her.  I have nothing personal against her. And it wouldn’t bother me except I know so many talented young actresses who are so much funnier, and they can’t get arrested while Rebel Wilson inexplicably keeps landing major gigs.  

So what am I missing here?  Help me. 

51 comments :

JeffinOhio55 said...

The "Pooch Perfect" show is something you'd expect to see on weekend cable, not in prime time on the ABC network. You could make a drinking game out of the phrase "this is my heart dog."

Craig M said...

I've never understood it either. I never found her very funny in her pre Hollywood work here in Australia either.

First time, long time said...

Hadn't thought about it before but now that you mention it, couldn't agree more. Liked her in Pitch Perfect, I don't see anything else in her filmography that I liked, and Isn't It Romantic is genuinely one the worst movies I have ever seen.

Tyler said...

I don't get her, either. Every project I've ever seen her in, her bit was just "I'm fat and obnoxious" (not a judgment against her weight at all, but it was very much part of her comic persona) and I found her tiresome to watch.

I'm sure she's a perfectly lovely person in real life, but she's not someone who I want to watch in anything.

Andrew said...

I feel the same way about Kelly Clarkson. I watched her show, and was mystified at her appeal.

This will probably offend people, but could Wilson's popularity be due to Hollywood's overcompensation for it's usual focus on superficial beauty in female leads?

Dave H said...

A reboot of Splash involving Rebel Wilson has been in development for a few years with the roles reversed. There will be a male mermaid. Please God no.

I have been wondering the same about Pete Davidson (from SNL). They seem intent on trying to make this guy a star. I have never laughed at anything involving him.

Anonymous said...

You made a similar post about Maya Rudolph and Mindy Kaling before. I hope you do a dedicated post like this on a guy comedian next time because sorry the pattern is quite alarming.

You mean no harm I know but ranting about female comedians ONLY is not a good look.

But to be fair I do agree that Rebel isn't funny at all.

Glenn said...

I feel the same way about Melissa McCarthy in movies. She was hilarious on Mike & Molly, and I think she's great in a sitcom format. In movies, she's just not funny.

cd1515 said...

Great point by Andrew, could it be that people are thinking since she’s not hot she MUST be funny?
And people are afraid to tell the unattractive woman “you’re not funny either”?

By Ken Levine said...

For the person who asked if I thought any male comedians/actors were unfunny -- start with Jim Carrey, move on to Mike Myers, Rob Schneider, Dane Cook,Ashton Kutcher, and those are just off the top of my head. This isn't a gender thing. If Rob Schneider started hosting the dog show I would have spotlighted him.

Tim G. said...

She is funny compared with Maya Rudolph.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

And why is Amy Schumer trying to be a thing again? Or Lena Dunham for that matter?

Jim said...

I’ve read this blog for years. The Funny/Not Funny opinions expressed appear zero gender-based.

The comment indicating concern over that was not fact-based.

DBA said...

I've seen Rebel Wilson host some Australian shows, and I think I enjoy her more as a host than as an actor. The premise of this dog show isn't super appealing to me, but if she's about to steer herself into more of a Comedian Who Hosts Things track than a Comedian Who Acts track, I'm ok with that.

Then again I think Maya Rudolph and Mindy Kaling are very funny, so it's possible our tastes just differ.

71dude said...

I don't know much about Rebel Wilson but I've never gotten Ellen DeGeneres.

Craig Russell said...

100% agree. She's terrible. The worst. Not a fan.

Moot said...

I have only seen her in Jojo Rabbit. She was pretty secondary in that, I think if her role was any larger it would've been for the worse. I remember hearing something about her creating a lot of fictitious elements for her backstory, like a rough childhood, abuse, poverty, etc., I didn't care enough to go look for the details but I thought that was pretty creepy for anyone to do. But is that it, you have to create a hard-luck origin story in order to get sympathy laughs or opportunities? If you have to do that, you have no talent, and if people go in for that, they're depriving a true hard-luck story of their opportunities.

Kevin from VA said...

Ken,

You've asking "what am I missing" that others find funny concerning Rebel Wilson has me curious. With your long history in entertainment, is there someone that you found extremely funny but most everyone else though otherwise? A person that you thought that maybe should have had the success that Rebel Wilson has had, but didn't?

Kosmo13 said...

I'd never heard of Rebel Wilson prior to this blog post...

Anonymous said...

Ken,

Isn't comedy always going to be inherently subjective? For instance, I like repartee and dry wit. I don't find broad comedy funny for the most part. That people pay money to see Carrot Top is an utter mystery to me.

So much of what passes for comedy these days just isn't funny to me. My measure for a sit com is this: Does it make me laugh out loud at least once per episode? Most don't. A show like Life in Pieces scores a solid 3 out loud laughs per episode, so it's a keeper, but apparently that's just me because it didn't last too long.

Comedy seems inherently tied to a person's background, IQ, educational attainment, etc.

Keith in Kalama

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I find her funnier than Aubrey Plaza...at least Rebel seems like she's *trying* to be funny (whether she succeeds or not is up to debate), whereas Aubrey does her tired pouting schtick and she gets gigs to host award shows and gets cast in high-profile projects.

Tom Tully said...

She is the sassy fat girl, the Fatty Arbuckle of our time (but without the Virginia Rappe death thing around her neck). She is Mama Cass without the talent. Jackie Leonard without the fast patter. Kate Smith without 'God Bless America' and Gleason, Goodman, Candy and Wendt without the humor and wit. Remember the gal from "Almost Perfect" who lost all the weight and was never heard from again? It's not so much who she is but who she represents!

maxdebryn said...

What I am wondering is how Rebel can afford that apartment that she lives in.

maxdebryn said...

What I am wondering is how Rebel can afford that apartment that she lives in.

JoeyH said...

She must have a great agent.

DBenson said...

I recall reading that an actor who'd done a series of flops was viewed as a safer bet than a brilliant unknown, more or less because other producers risked money on him/her and producers must be smarter than the public.

Mike Bloodworth said...

I agree. I can't add anything.
ANDREW: You beat me too it.
Unfunny males: Martin Short, Jim Gaffigan, Brian Posehn and Steve Harvey.

Off topic. Ken, have you been watching Ken Burns' new "Hemingway" documentary? I'm guessing that you have read all of his books. (Or at least the best known ones) What do you think?

M.B.

Cap'n Bob said...

Tracy Morgan and Jim Breuer take the trophy for least funny males in showbiz.

I'm surprised that with a name like Rebel she hasn't been torn down yet.

Corin said...

I haven’t seen much of Wilson’s work, but what I have seen I’d call mildly amusing, never laugh-out-loud funny. She seems reasonably likeable but not uproarious.

I haven’t really enjoyed Maya Rudolph in anything she’s done post-SNL. However, I don’t think she’s been doing material that plays to her strengths. When she’s “herself”, she’s bland, but her stylised impressions could be a hoot (Whitney Houston, Donatella Versace, et al.)

Aaron Sheckley said...

You could plug so many different names into the "I don't understand their appeal" conundrum that the list would be so large it would take up more computer space than a bitcoin miner. In a world where Pewdiepie becomes a multi-millionaire on Youtube by cursing at videogames and playing vaguely racist practical jokes, the fact that Wilson still gets jobs barely blips on the radar. Though I may well not be her target demographic; I'm a guy in my 50's who has, so far, only seen her in trailers for movies, and none of those appearances ever inspired me to want to see the films.

Unknown said...

She any relation to Flip Wilson?

Philly Cinephile said...

The appeal of most of today's "comedy" "stars" is lost on me. I absolutely loathe Will Ferrell, although I know that there are those who regard him as some sort of comedy god.

Others that come to mind...

Those two guys on SNL who can't get through Weekend Update without laughing.
Horatio Sanz and Jimmy Fallon, who made it okay to laugh in every SNL sketch.
Tina Fey, who has been doing the same smart-ass suburban white girl schtick since freshman year in high school.
Judd Apatow and his cronies, with their overlong, self-indulgent films.
Pretty much anyone who does improv anywhere in the United States.
Molly Shannon, who plays every character as if she's in a Mary Catherine Gallagher sketch.

Stubblejumpers Cafe said...

Whoever said it all comes down to personal taste got it right.
I have never even chuckled at Big Bang Theory; just been bored.
Same with Amy Schumer.
But get a real kick out of Coronation Street humour, and find Melissa McCarthy a hoot in movies.
You say potato, I say potahto. Whatcha gonna do?
-Kate

Lorimartian said...

I guess I'm the only one who appreciates Ms. Wilson's talents. Although I hated the title, I liked her character in "Super Fun Night," and she was up to the acting/singing/choreography challenges in "Cats." I don't know if she fabricated having a law degree, but if she actually does, she must possess some degree of intelligence. Judging by her appearance on the dog show, she has slimmed down quite a bit, whether for health reasons or to fit the Hollywood mold, the only way she'll expand her casting opportunities. The actress I was concerned about is Chrissy Metz who seemed to get bigger and bigger each time I saw her. Apparently, she lost 100 pounds. Kudos to her.

Kabe said...

Being a fan of Conan, I saw her sitcom "Super Fun Night", as Conan produced it. My impression was that everyone assumed people would find her funny, so they didn't bother writing funny scripts.

Chuck said...

I think it's because those kids who loved Pitch Perfect are grown up now, and they like her. So they keep putting her out there for a "likability"...

Rick Whelan said...

Going way way back, the great clowns of yore (Chaplin, Grock, Laurel and Hardy, Emmett Kelly, Lou Costello ... (I know my age is showing) but all these performers inculcated an immense sense of sadness in their personas ... somehow brilliantly infusing the the tragic hilarity of being human. I can't really think of too many comic actors or actresses today who embody that divine mixture.

Mike Barer said...

Bob Saget, never found him funny.

Dennis69 said...

I say the same thing every day about Jennifer Aniston.

Barry Traylor said...

And here I just thought it was me that didn't think her very funny.

Katie G said...

She was the funniest part of Bridesmaids. She hasn't done it for me since though.

SummitCityScribe said...

I can't say that I'm a fan of Rebel Wilson but I'm even less fond of garbage shows like Pooch Perfect. I think Mr. Levine has already written about this, but with the advent of streaming services, broadcast TV is really going to the dogs.

Anonymous said...

I love to read these comments because it makes me feel young.

JessyS said...

Ellen DeGeneres is a nasty woman. Maybe it is how she and Rebel Wilson did it with producers is a reason for their success.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who thinks Carson Daly is the luckiest person in Hollywood?

JS said...

I suspect her Q score is good so she keeps landing gigs. Same with Aaron Rogers. Possibly the most bland host in tv history on Jeopardy, but people like him so he keeps getting commercials, etc. outside of football.

Brandon in Virginia said...

I don't have a strong opinion of her one way or another, although I could see why it feels like Hollywood is trying to make her a thing. I vaguely remember there being some story over her lying about her age, and folks were horrified to find out a performer would do such a thing.

As for Pooch Perfect, I swear that sounds like a show you'd see on the "Discovery Family of Networks", complete with 12 million promos.

mike schlesinger said...

I can tell you why. It's because she's the major studios' and networks' idea of a perfect romcom female: a sex-crazed imbecile who runs around bumping into things and breaking them and then falling on her ass. They seem to be frightened of intelligent women who aren't obsessed with their hoo-has, so Wilson is right in their comfort wheelhouse.

Rocketman said...

For Moot... I don't think she said she came from am abusive famly or anything like that. She had embelished her upbringing to make it sound more quirky and bohemian than it was and she may have fudged her age by a couple of years. It turned out she was just an ordinary suburban teenager. The Australian media really went into her claims and when they painted her as a serial liar, she sued them ...and won. Australians have a habit of building up their celebrities and then tearing them down when they get successful in other countries. And no, I don't think she's funny. She just does the 'large girl falling down the stairs' shtick.

James Van Hise said...

I had never heard of her when she hosted the MTV Movie Awards (a show I used to enjoy until they decided they had no interest in appealing to anyone over the age of 20). I watched her doing fat sex jokes and then turned it off and have never even tried to watch the MTV Movie Awards again.

D. McEwan said...

"Anonymous said...
Honestly, I find her funnier than Aubrey Plaza.
"

I've been to funerals for infants that were funnier than Aubrey Plaza. She is the real mystery to me. I can at least see what the suits think is funny about Rebel. Michael Schlesinger put it in a nutshell in his comment. But Aubrey's whole schtick seems to be that there is no such thing as joy or even something that is interesting anywhere in Creation. Knee-slapping nihilism. Her presence can sink any scene. You could stick Aubrey Plaza into Singing in the Rain and it would turn into Shoah, only longer. How, and more to the point, WHY does she keep getting work? Why do talk shows have her on? "We'd like to stare into a black hole of meaningless oblivion for seven minutes. Why don't you watch something else or hit fast-forward? Ladies & gentlemen, Aubrey Plaza."