Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Rob McElhenney, Conan O’Brien
Rob McElhenney, Conan O’Brien
Screenshot: Conan

Rob McElhenney might as well be known as the man of a thousand bodies at this point, his dedication to pulling a De Niro in order to land a season’s worth of “Fat Mac”/“Jacked Mac” jokes on It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia truly an act of herculean overeating/never eating. On Tuesday’s Conan, McElhenney explained that, in order to get in shape for Sunny’s 13th season, he went right to the source of all the finest Hollywood beefcake—the trainer who brought all the abdominal magic to the Magic Mike movies. And while he told the trainer that he had a specific big screen body in mind for Mac’s transformation (which paid off in one of Sunny’s most breathtakingly satisfying finales ever), he wasn’t fooling the fitness guru, who effortlessly guessed “Brad Pitt in Fight Club” without missing a beat. (Sadly, while McElhenney got close to Pitt-ian perfection from the waist down thanks to a year of self-torture, he told Conan that the trainer couldn’t do anything about his comedy-friendly kisser.)

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Still, McElhenney’s come a long way since he was a struggling actor in New York in the 90s, when any dramatic weight loss had more to do with not having money for food. (His new show Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet—co-created with Charlie Day and Megan Ganz— is racking up Sunny-style great notices as we speak.) It was back in those days when McElhenney told Conan that he had finally received a long-awaited call for work—from Conan O’Brien. Surely, that was his big break. Or would have been, if his part in a sketch on Late Night With Conan O’Brien hadn’t been unceremoniously cut before air. Or, maybe McElhenney was lucky, in that he reminded Conan of how his part as “masturbating teen” in a running bit about new satellite TV channels (again, it was the 90s) never actually made it to air. (McElhenney pointedly did not call his parents to tell them about his big TV score.) O’Brien seemed to recall the aborted bit, and tried to sooth McElhenney’s no-doubt decades-long resentment (he seems fine, honestly) by assuring the actor that they never cut anything from the old show for anything as silly as “bad taste,” and it must just have been a technical problem. Ah, masturbating teen, your spirit lives on in Philadelphia.

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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