Obesity and Comedy

What is it with comedians, obesity, and the compulsion to tell the public all about it? And here is a twist — two individuals in the entertainment business whose weight situations have proven interesting in ways that the public apparently never tires of.

Rebel Wilson gained 100 pounds in college because of polycystic ovarian syndrome, and still managed to launch a career as an actor and comedian. Another factor is a problem that most women will not face, but because of her role as a character called Fat Amy in a film series, she was contractually required to maintain her weight for five years.

Time goes on

Later on, approaching age 40, Wilson was compelled by the medical necessity of addressing the PCOS condition in hopes of being able to freeze some eggs. This led to declaring a “Year of Health” in which self-care would be her main mission. She switched to a high-protein diet and worked with a personal trainer, whose motto is “Weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint.” Then, though many people gained weight during the coronavirus pandemic, she found the lack of work-related demands helped her to ease up on the stress-related eating.

That same trainer also is in favor of progress photos. In Wilson’s case, these were shared widely along the way to an 80-pound weight loss. Her social media followers contributed lots of encouragement, although a subset of fans wanted her to remain the “funny fat girl.” She also found solace in the concept that if you love yourself as you are, it is much easier to change.

Comedian, pianist, and public speaker

As a child in a small, intolerant town, Owen Benjamin was abnormally tall and, in his own words, “super fat,” but not inclined to be combative. He endured quite a lot of bullying before discovering that he could get some relief by making people laugh. Thanks to his father’s professional connections, Benjamin was in the children’s chorus of an opera at age six, and knew from then on show business would be his life’s work.

As a grownup, he achieved a fair amount of success as a comedian, then decided to get back to the land and try farming and raising a family in a remote area of the country. But he keeps in touch with fans and critics through social media and podcasting. Some people love him; others, not so much. They just enjoy ragging on him and scoring points with other haters.

At some point in his adult life, Benjamin weighed 320 pounds, which is a lot even for a preternaturally tall human. He has at some point stated that “fat women are gross,” but with a professional comic, it’s hard to tell what is sincere and what is a bit. He has also publicly called former Confederate Alex Jones fat. And all along, weight has been a major issue. Only a couple of weeks ago, he posted a tweet saying,

I’m down 50 lbs in 3 months and want to report my findings. I gained a lot of weight homesteading because I figured nutrient and calorie rich food if it’s raw and unprocessed wouldn’t put on weight. I was very wrong.

Because of his provocative political opinions, which may be intentionally exaggerated for the purpose of keeping the public interested, Benjamin has a large number of followers who enjoy arguing about his true motives. A section of Reddit is devoted to him, where fans and foes love to bicker about how large he is/was/should be, and make fun of his selfie-jogging videos. They get all worked up, squabbling over their guesses about Benjamin’s BMI, which is a difficult call because his height is variously reported as 6’6″, 6’7″, and even 6’8″.

The bottom line is that this comedian seems to have segued into becoming a professional fat person, and may find out, as Rebel Wilson did, that it is not an easy role to escape from.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Here’s Exactly How Rebel Wilson Lost More Than 80 Pounds,” WomensHealthMag.com, 07/05/22
Source: “Girl on guy 116: owen benjamin,” GirlOnGuy.net, 12/03/13
Source: “Brainy Quote,” BrainyQuote.com, undated
Image by Carlos Pacheco/CC BY 2.0

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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