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IT Boy: Chris O'Dowd


Unless you're a big fan of BBC sitcoms (and who isn't??) you might not of heard of Chris O'Dowd. That will change after next week, when O'Dowd will be seen romancing Kristen Wiig in the soon-to-be-blockbuster comedy "Bridesmaids." I loved this movie so much--I expected it to be hilarious, but I wasn't prepared for how sweet and romantic and insightful about female friendships it ended up being. But first and foremost, it's really, really funny.

O'Dowd is best known (or maybe only known) to American audiences for his work as Roy, the surly IT technician on the British comedy "The IT Crowd." If you haven't checked out this show, catch it on IFC or even watch it online, full episodes are on YouTube. It details the adventures of a pair of IT workers and their female boss, who knows nothing about computers. That doesn't sound like the greatest sell, but just trust me when I say the show is hysterically funny and one of the best workplace comedies I've ever seen. The cast is terrific. O'Dowd's co-star is the hilarious Richard Ayoade, who plays the childlike nerd Moss. Ayoade has been so memorable on shows like "Garth Marenghi's Dark Place" and "The Mighty Boosh"; in America, he has directed episodes of "Community." His film, "Submarine," comes out next month.

In one famous episode, the gang goes to see a musical and Roy pretends to be disabled when he's caught using the handicapped bathroom. His lie spins out of control when he says his wheelchair was stolen. Every time someone asks him what's specficially wrong with him, he can only respond: "I'm...disabled!"

I spoke to O'Dowd earlier this week, and when I cited this episode, he told me that it's one of his favorites. He also revealed a funny story that occurred while he was doing a play last year:

"People would come to the stage door afterwards, to talk and to get autographs. This little kid came up and asked for a picture, then said, 'Can you do me one more favor?' I said, 'Yeah?' He said, 'Can you say, "I’m disabled?" ' And I was like of course—but I looked behind him and there was a kid in a wheelchair! And I was trying, without making it obvious, to say to the kid, 'Listen, I’m sorry, I can’t.' And he was like, 'Why not?' I just said, 'I can’t, I'm sorry.' He was so disappointed when we went off. Then the kid in the wheelchair came up and said, 'Can I get your autograph?' I said, 'Of course!' He said, 'And can you say," I’m disabled?" ' "

--Jenelle Riley

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