‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’: Why Charlie Day Thought Rob McElhenney Was Funnier When He Was Out of Shape

In 14 seasons of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the gang hasn’t changed inside. They’re still the same horrible people they were when the TV Show began. But of all the Sunny characters, Rob McElhenney has changed a lot physically. He’s both gained weight and gotten into extremely lean physical shape for te character Mac. His Sunny co-creator Charlie Day preferred the former.

charlie Day and Rob McElhenney
L-R: Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day | Patrick McElhenney/FX

Day was a guest on Justin Long’s Life is Short podcast on Aug. 4. The two had worked together on the film Going the Distance, which is what prompted this discussion about McElhenney.  

The physical journey of Rob McElhenney on ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’

McElhenney decided Mac should gain weight in season 7 of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. He told the Television Critics Association in 2011 that it would be realistic for a guy who lives like Mac. 

“I’m being realistic in terms of the way that the character would look based on the way he eats and drinks and doesn’t work out,” McElhenney said at the time. “So it wasn’t just about the weight gain. It’s also the beard, and my hair was really greasy, and I tried to look as ugly as possible, basically.”

In season 13 of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, McElhenney had another statement to make. He worked out intensely to get in movie star shape because he found it absurd how many actors in film and television looked like that.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Rob McElhenney
Rob McElhenney | Patrick McElhenney/FXX

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“Unless you’re Chris Hemsworth and you’re playing Thor or Superman, which in that case it makes sense,” McElhenney said in a 2018 Television Critics Association panel. “I don’t understand why, like, teachers and guys that are playing teachers and engineers and, like, food delivery guys, all of a sudden they take their shirt off and they’re just f***ing ripped.”

Charlie Day: Rob McElhenney was ‘just not as funny’ when he got ripped on ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’

McElhenney made his point in both seasons of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Day, however, finds season 7 Mac funnier than season 13 Mac.

“He was inarguably much funnier in the seasons where he got really fat,” Day told Long. “In the season where he got really fat, he’s really funny. The seasons where he got really ripped, he’s still very good. It’s just not as funny.”

Charlie Day has a theory why weight is more endearing in comedy

The subject came up because Long had gotten into shape for Going the Distance. He was playing the leading man to Drew Barrymore in the romantic comedy. Long said after the film, Adam Sandler advised him against working out. Sandler said, “Nobody wants to laugh at a guy who’s ripped.”

Rob McElhenney
Rob McElhenney | Patrick McElhenney/FXX

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Day understood Sandler’s point. 

“I’ll tell you what that is,” Day said. “That is because what we like about funny people is it makes us feel better about the things we feel insecure about in ourselves. We’re like oh, if that person can be succeeding in the movie and in their life as a seemingly regular person, then the parts of me that I feel like aren’t of supermodel status I think are OK. I think we identify with that. We don’t want our funny guys ripped.”

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia will return for a 15th season.