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The funny fat guy is one of the great staples of drama even if he’s usually a supporting character; every budding hero needs his overweight court jester. The fat friend can tag along but only so long as he knows his place, and his place is a temporary one. When Price Hal becomes King Henry, former drinking buddy Falstaff gets his P 45 straight away- ‘I know thee not old man’ - and consequently has to endure some pretty nasty jibes about being “surfeit swelled”. Ouch. As a medium, sitcom is kinder to the well-upholstered. It’s where the funny fat guy finally came into his own and here are some of the funniest fat guys in sitcom.
Fred Flintstone, The Flintstones: Wilma’s chunky other half should have been an early Paleo diet success story, but he was much too fond of a beer and a barbecue. Did working at a quarry and all that frantic pedalling help to keep the weight off? It yabba dabba didn’t.
Norman Peterson, Cheers: A man walks into a bar. Cheers favourite barfly was a perpetually unemployed accountant who thought life treated him like he’d slept with its wife. Norm found solace in the occasional cold one followed by a blow out at his favourite restaurant, The Happy Heifer. He once boasted that he was at his ideal weight if he was eleven foot tall, and, when asked by Coach “What’s shaking”, Norm replied, “All four cheeks and a couple of chins”.
Smithy, Gavin and Stacey: If you dumped Gavin’s best mate naked in the middle of the Sahara at midnight, he’d have found a KFC before dawn. He always seemed at ease in his own skin and only occasionally worried about the limitations imposed by his size. Gavin put an end to Smithy’s vision of the fun life he could have if he was gay, pointing out that you never see Russell Grant hanging out with Dale Winton and Graham Norton. Smithy also lamented he’d never be able to overdose on painkillers, as the amount of Neurofen he’d need to buy would leave him unable to afford a holiday afterwards. Swings and roundabouts.
Jim Royle, The Royle Family: The Mail recently said that Britain was producing a whole generation of middle aged Jim Royles and it wasn’t meant as a compliment. But as we sit in the armchair, remote control in hand and a throat like Ghandi’s flip flop, we can console ourselves with the knowledge that farting is always funny.
Dan Conner, Roseanne: Jim Royle is every British TV producer’s idea of a typical working class man; he’s feckless, bigoted and hasn’t worked for twenty years. America’s blue collar icon is bigger and better, much bigger in fact, though I doubt all his weight gain was really caused by the munchies. Before Roseanne won the lottery and lost her marbles Dan Conner was the iconic good father who struggled every hour God sent to feed his family. Naturally Dan died of a heart attack in his forties and Jim Royle will live to ninety five.
Peter Griffin, Family Guy: Peter Griffin is every Englishman’s idea of a typical American tourist; brash, loud, opinionated and big. Stick him in a baseball cap and plaid trousers and he wouldn’t look out of place in the queue for Madame Tussauds. Pete’s proud he hasn’t put on any weight since his college days, he’s still a svelte 293 lbs and so big that objects can orbit around him. As a thoroughly modern man, he’s decided to change the world rather than change himself. Peter doesn’t lose weight but sets up the National Association for the Advancement of Fat People instead. No fat chicks.
George Costanza, Seinfeld: A selfish, lazy, cowardly, shiftless, podgy, neurotic ball of self-loathing, George Costanza is an inspiration and personal hero of mine. George blames his multitude of personal foibles on the tragedy of having parents who didn’t get divorced and styles himself Lord of the Idiots. He has many laudable ambitions, such as wanting to own 365 pairs of underpants so he only has to do laundry once a year. George never tells the truth if a lie will fit but remember, as George says, it’s not a lie if you believe it yourself. To help you on the quest to find your inner George start with this helpful hint – pretending you’re busy at work is easy; just look annoyed all the time. Despite my love of George, there can only be one winner of the Funniest Fat Guy in Sitcom title, and of course it’s…
Homer Simpson, The Simpsons: Homer is such an iconic fat happy guy that Steve Miller, presenter of Fat Families, has written to Matt Groening, asking him to put Homer on a diet. Apparently millions of us see him as a role model and copy his habits. Steve’s unlikely to have much joy as a skinny Homer is unthinkable.
Homer has tried to shed the pounds from time to time. He experimented with subliminal weight loss tapes, but due to a mix up at the factory, ended up increasing his vocabulary to the point of incomprehension instead. His attempts to get his weight up to 300 lbs so he could be signed off work were much more successful, but Homer got bored sitting in the house all day dressed in a muumuu. He eventually stole an ice cream truck and drove to the nuclear power plant where he averted a meltdown by wedging his body in the reactor.
So you want to stop us copying Homer and preventing nuclear disasters Mr Miller? Shameful?