In the April 24-26 edition of USA Weekend, actor Seth Rogen (Knocked Up, Pineapple Express, Monsters Vs. Aliens) was asked, "If you were the opposite sex but had the same gifts and qualities, how would things be different?" He replied, "I would've had a much more difficult time being an unconventional-looking woman. I think being an unconventional-looking man is fine. Most of my favorite comedians have been weird-looking: Bill Murray, John Candy, Buster Keaton. It's almost embraced in the male world. People don't want their comedy from a real handsome guy."
In the May 1-3 edition of USA Weekend, actor Eric Bana (Hulk, Munich, Star Trek) was interviewed. He started out as a stand-up and sketch comedian in Australia in the '90s before making the leap to dramatic roles with the 2000 film Chopper. Bana is not an unconventional-looking man. He is a handsome man. And up until Funny People, which comes out July 31, he hadn't been cast in any comedies.
Bana uses his native Australian accent in Funny People, which has him competing with Adam Sandler for the affections of Leslie Mann, because handsome men are funny men's enemies. Sandler stars in the film as a famous actor and former stand-up comedian who's dying of a rare blood disorder.
Sandler himself is a famous actor who, like Bana, started out as a stand-up and sketch comedian. But Sandler is not a conventionally handsome man. Which is why he mostly makes comedies. But, like all clowns who cry on the inside, he wants to be taken seriously, so he continues to make dramas like Reign Over Me (2007) and comedy-dramas such as Spanglish (2004) even though his juvenile-comedy fans tend to skip those films in theaters. You can't blame him for wanting to stretch and not do the same movie again and again, but he won't know until August if his fans find Funny People to be too much drama, not enough comedy. Same for Judd Apatow, the film's writer-director, who's also trying to stretch.
In Funny People Bana and Sandler costar with Rogen, also a former stand-up, who recently slimmed down for his role in a remake of the 1960s TV series The Green Hornet. Rogen's character is supposed to be vain, hence the weight loss, but some fans and critics see it as a betrayal of the actor's everyman "schlub" persona. Slimming down is a healthy move for anyone who's overweight, but in the world of comedy, unfortunately, it can be viewed as a highly conventional move.