A fat comedian faces a quandary: Are audiences laughing at him or her because he or she is fat, or only because he or she is fat?
For your long-term health and well-being, you’re best off losing weight. Can you not have your cake without eating it onstage in a double-negative metaphor? That’s rhetorical, obviously. We enjoy comedians of all shapes and sizes, who make us laugh regardless of their shape and size.
However, at the same time here in 2013, we also see how much appearance still dictates how audiences perceive and treat comedians — just this month, old-media movie critic Rex Reed went to extraordinarily unnecessary lengths to insult Melissa McCarthy for her weight in reviewing her new hit movie, Identity Thief.
Amid all of this and in spite of it, perhaps, comes the new webseries “Mike & Andrew Try to Lose Some Weight,” which debuted last week via Atomic Wedgie TV. The Mike is Mike Bridenstine and and Andrew is Andrew Rollins DeWitt. They’re former Chicago stand-ups now living and working in Los Angeles, as is series co-creator Ramiro Castro, Jr. — their “comedy-reality” show puts the two comedians through their paces each week in new and different exercises, all with the hope that they’ll lose weight in the process. As their own description suggests: “Does it work? Probably not.”
In last week’s debut, Mike and Andrew tried their hands at grappling in the hand-to-hand and other body parts battle of Mixed Martial Arts.
In today’s second episode, Mike and Andrew learn pole dancing from Lacy.
Castro told The Comic’s Comic that next week’s episode sends the duo to the ice baths, with more episodes in the works and the group open to calorie-burning suggestions from their viewers. “These two guys want to get in shape,” Castro said. “Mike is learning to swim and Andrew is regularly going to the gym…but this gives them a chance to sample a bunch of things everyone’s heard of and give it a funny perspective on it.”
Bridenstine added: “Andrew and I had been talking about working on something together for a while, so I thought this was a great fit.”
So to speak.
“And I’ve been going to the gym for the past few months because I was getting sick of being called fat on a consistent basis. I’ve lost 8 minutes of material,” Bridenstine said.
On that semi-serious note, I asked Bridenstine: I know this series is all in good fun and in good health. But is there something to be said for how fat or nonfat a comedian is? How much does physical appearance matter for comedy, notwithstanding health? Would you (ever) argue that it’s actually a disadvantage to be good-looking for a stand-up comedian, male edition (or female edition)? Or am I only asking these silly questions because I haven’t already been absorbed and co-opted by the Hollywood Show Business Illuminati?
Bridenstine’s reply: “I had a casting director tell me I needed to lose 20 pounds or gain 40. So I think it matters more for casting. But there’s probably something to be said for how someone looks when they’re performing. And I’m sure good-looking comics have a certain disadvantage on stage. But having never been one, I don’t know what they would be…other than me being jealous in the back of the room thinking, “Oh great. What do they have to also be funny for?” I’ve also heard good-looking comics say they have a harder time featuring on the road, since certain scummy headliners might view them as a threat to meeting girls after the show. But again, I’ve never had that problem.”
Related: If you want to hear Mike Bridenstine and Mike Holmes sing every song ever, just check out their EP, “Every Song Ever.” Truth.