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Interview with Rosie O'Donnell

Rosie O'Donnell interview

HBO

Were you familiar with Little Britain before you got an opportunity to do the show?

Rosie O'Donnell

A complete obsessed fan. I went over to London a couple times in the last few years and I saw this show. I could not believe how funny it was. I went and bought all the DVDs I could, brought it back to America, and handed it out to every human I met.

HBO

When did you first get to meet Matt and David?

Rosie O'Donnell

At the Elton John concert at Madison Square Garden about a year ago. I was talking to Sharon Osbourne and I saw two guys waving to her. And I turned and said, "Is that the Little Britain guys?" She's like, "Yes they're good friends of mine, do you want to meet them?" Like, "Yes I do!" They were delightful, and I was telling them how much I admire them and how terrifically unique and funny and inventive they are. And that I actually have - in England they have a lot of products for sale - and I have the guy in the wheelchair with the glasses. I have that big stuffed thing in my office at home. And a lot of their different schwag stuff from the Little Britain show. I'm a huge fan. So when they called and asked me to do this, you know, my agent really wasn't familiar with it. She said, "You got a strange script, and it's sort of mean. It's about Weight Watchers, and they're making fun of you being gay and.." I said, "Is it Little Britain? Is it the Fatty Fighters? I'm totally doing it!" So, it was a thrill for me.

HBO

Do you have any favorite characters?

Rosie O'Donnell

Oh my God, so many. I love, "I'm a lady, because I'm a lady!" I love that. I love, "You don't, no you don't, yes you do, no you don't, no you..." that, I love the teenager in in the pool, smoking a cigarette. I love the guys in the wheelchair. I love Marjorie from the Fatty Fighters. I just think every one of them is so unique and so memorable and, you know, Daffyd, "The Only Gay in the Village" is pretty much the funniest thing you'll ever see in your life.

HBO

How do you think British humor is different from American humor?

Rosie O'Donnell

This show is kind of Bean meets Monty Python meets Benny Hill, all wrapped into one. But the comedy is universal. The language of comedy and what makes people laugh I think in any language is pretty much the same thing. It's just the references - they have so many specific references to things that are really germane to England, that's why it's called Little Britain. They show little pockets of the country, different dialects, different customs and styles. But their characters are so human. You really believe that when Matt's dressed up as Marjorie, that that is a crazy woman from Weight Watchers. They're such good actors that's what makes it work.

HBO

What was your reaction when you first read the script?

Rosie O'Donnell

I didn't even read it before I said yes. I'm so familiar with the show and I have such respect for David and Matt. It's like when Larry David asked me to do 'Curb Your Enthusiasm,' you don't say, "Let me see the script." So when I got a call to do this, I said, "Without a doubt." And I read the script and thought it was very funny and very risqué, much more than American comedy usually is. But, that's what makes them unique.

HBO

There's a live audience, and that's something you're familiar with.

Rosie O'Donnell

To me, a live audience brings the excitement and the energy. It's like doing the tight rope without a safety net. Comedy with a single camera, to me, it's very hard to play. Since 'The Office,' which started in England, all these shows have made a success out of single-camera comedy. It's been very difficult to get your standard four-camera sitcom made with a live studio audience. But to me, that's what makes it great, it's like doing theater. And I'm thrilled that there's an audience to actually laugh.

HBO

Anything you want to add?

Rosie O'Donnell

I think it's one of the funniest shows ever. They're two exceptionally funny guys. And I remember when I started giving it out to everybody I knew in America, they were like, "Well, why don't we find two people and do those kind of things here?" But that's like saying to figure skating couples, "Well let's get two people that can skate together." No, they've been working for years and it's quite obvious. They work together beautifully and that only comes from time and experience - and it's a joy to watch.

Interviews