STANDING on stage in front of the royals would be nerve-racking for most people but for Hollywood star Rebel Wilson, it’s the chance to have some fun.
The Pitch Perfect actress, 40, says she couldn’t resist poking fun at Megxit and Prince Andrew’s problems at the Baftas in February, with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge both in attendance.
Introducing the Best Director category at the Royal Albert Hall, she quipped: “It is really great to be here at the Royal Andrew . . . royal Harry . . . no, sorry . . . Royal Phil . . . ah, at this royal palace place.”
And Australian Rebel admits she bucked up the courage to make the gag, which caused William and Kate to squirm in their seats, because the Royals “secretly love it” when they are the butt of the joke.
Speaking exclusively to HOAR, Rebel said: “I’m friends with someone in the Royal Family and they say all the royals have a great sense of humour and they secretly love it.
“I don’t think they were setting me up for failure, because this person is very genuine.
“I did speak to Kate and William’s private secretary after the Baftas and all seemed fine.
“I mean, obviously, I’m not a malicious person either — my goal is not to try to take down someone, especially at the Baftas.
“But I’m also very cheeky and I like to just sometimes say stuff.”
Rebel won praise for “single-handedly breathing life” into the ceremony as her other gags, which mocked her box-office flop Cats and the Baftas’ lack of diversity, went down a storm on social media.
On the lack of females up for Best Director, she joked: “I look at the exceptional, daring talent nominated in this category and I don’t think I could do what they do. Honestly, I just don’t have the balls.”
But Rebel hopes her controversial gags won’t harm her chances of being a future presenter of the notoriously stuffy awards, saying: “I hope they ask me to host it one day, I love it. Such a great event.”
Rebel has a huge affection for our country as many of her inspirations are British female comedians.
The Bridesmaids actress, who has been entertaining her millions of social media followers with hilarious TikTok dance routines during lockdown, explained: “I adore British comedy. The first woman I saw writing and performing her own material is Jennifer Saunders and Ab Fab, she’s my hero.
‘BRITISH HUMOUR IS VERY WITTY & VERY CLEVER’
“There’s been a long tradition of British women in comedy from Jennifer and Dawn French and, more recently, Miranda Hart and Daisy May Cooper.
“I have been watching Daisy’s show, This Country, in lockdown. I found it on TV recently and I just really love British humour. To me it is very witty and very clever.
“I’m just a big fan of British comedy in general.”
Rebel is currently promoting her new Amazon Prime Video series LOL: Last One Laughing, filmed in her Aussie homeland, which sees ten comedians compete to win £55,000.
The contestants are locked in a room together for six hours with the sole purpose of making the others giggle so that they are eliminated from the competition.
The comedians are handed a yellow warning card for smiling and a red card for laughing, meaning they have lost. Out of the ten competitors, only three are women, which host Rebel says highlights just how hard it is to be a female comedian.
She added: “I definitely think it’s still a male dominated industry.
“I’ve been living mainly in America for the past decade and when I first went over to America, I had to work under very successful male comedians.
“I did work for Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller and Sacha Baron Cohen.
“These guys were very powerful in the industry and I kind of had to slot into their material. You don’t ever get to be the star and you don’t necessarily get a favourable edit or as good role.
“You’re more trying to embellish a very small, small role, that’s not normally as well developed as the male roles.
“I still think it is that way, but there has been a lot of change through female movies, especially comedies that have been crushing it like Bridesmaids and then Pitch Perfect.
“Their success has really helped female comedians.
“Having three out of the ten Last One Laughing comedians be female is kind of representative of the current industry here.
“I thought it was a hard gig for those three female comedians.
“I don’t know what I would have done if I was in their situation. They were outnumbered in the show.
‘YOU SHOULD LEARN FROM HISTORY, NOT ERASE IT’
“It would be harder for them to win, essentially, under this scenario.”
Rebel is equally passionate about comics not being censored, even if it means some of their jokes are deemed offensive.
Last week Matt Lucas, 46, and David Walliams, 48 saw their successful Noughties comedy shows, Little Britain and Come Fly With Me, removed from Netflix and BBC iPlayer due to criticism over their imitation of characters who are black and Asian.
The co-stars released a joint statement saying it was “wrong” to play characters of other races.
But Rebel, who lived with close pal Matt for three years in Los Angeles, has branded the decision “a bit crazy”.
She disagrees with the current cancel culture of removing old programmes and films from TV networks because they do not reflect today’s society.
Addressing the controversy, Rebel said: “I think with history, you should learn from it.
“If you erase it, it’s a bit like denying it ever happened. That doesn’t seem like a good plan.”
She believes jokes can be a “powerful weapon” and that it is the comedian’s job to tread the thin line between what is acceptable and what is not.
She explained: “It’s definitely got harder in the last few years due to, what I term, hyper-social justice.
“Comedians are being really, really careful about what they say, which is a shame because historically, it’s a comedian’s job to flirt with the line of what is acceptable and what’s appropriate. That’s often how you get laughter and how — with social issues — you can change people’s minds, by doing a really edgy joke.
“Some people might get offended, but they also might think about it and why they are offended, and it causes people to have discussions about topics.
“Historically, right from court jesters in the monarchy, comedians have been serving themselves up on a platform of being vulnerable and often subtly expressing opinions or changing people’s views on issues through comedy. It can be a very powerful weapon.”
Rebel believes that when the pandemic is over, comedy will begin to rise again and be given more leeway.
She added: “I personally feel like, with the coronavirus and global shutdown, that comedy is going to come back in a big way.
“Comedy always goes through waves.
“If you are an industry insider you might say comedy has fallen flat for the last few years, but I definitely feel like it willl have a comeback.
“You always need to laugh.”
- LOL: Last One Laughing Australia launches on Amazon Prime Video on Thursday June 18. Two episodes will be released every week on Prime Video, with the finale on July 2.
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