Rob Riggle Explains Why Robert De Niro Works Well In Comedy Even Though He’s Not A Comedian

Robert De Niro as Ben Whittaker in The Intern (2015)

It goes without saying that Robert De Niro is one of the greatest actors of our time. Having been a veteran of the film industry for over 50 years, he’s taken on a variety of roles, though most know him for his dramatic roles in classics like Mean Streets or Taxi Driver. This can cause some to overlook the more comedic roles that he’s taken on over the years. And as De Niro’s co-star Rob Riggle can tell you, the actor definitely knows how comedy works, despite not being a comedian.

CinemaBlend’s Jeff McCobb recently caught up with Rob Riggle to chat about his latest film, The War with Grandpa and getting to work with one of his idols, Robert De Niro. During the discussion, Riggle mentioned that De Niro doesn’t always get the credit he deserves when it comes to his comedic prowess and stressed that the veteran actor knows what’s funny and what’s not:

Well the good thing is that they’re all professionals. De Niro doesn’t get enough credit for his comedy chops. He knows what’s funny and he knows why it’s funny, so he knows how to play that. He’s not afraid to look foolish. Comedy, you gotta be willing to look foolish. If you’re not willing to look foolish, that’s a hard sell. That’s why they say comedy’s hard… They know comedy, they know why things are funny.

Rob Riggle is right in pointing out just how difficult comedy is to perform. A common misconception that some have is that drama is the biggest challenge for an actor. Dramatic acting does present its own set of obstacles but, as Riggle mentions, it can be hard for some to make themselves look foolish. You can check out our full interview with Riggle down below:

Admittedly, Robert De Niro’s comedic credits are a bit of a mixed bag, but a number of them have still struck a chord with moviegoers. His role as Jack Byrnes in the Meet the Parents trilogy has actually become one of his signature performances. I mean it’s hard not to love seeing him take Ben Stiller’s Greg Focker to task. He also turned in a strong performance in David O. Russell’s 2012 rom-com Silver Linings Playbook, which garnered him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Of course, one of Robert De Niro’s earliest comedic outings (which still stands tall as one of his best) is his performance in Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy. The black comedy sees him play Rupert Pupkin, an aspiring stand-up comedian suffering from mental health issues, who goes to great lengths to kickstart his career.

Robert De Niro is truly a multifaceted actor with a lot of range, and he appears to have plenty left in the tank even at this point in his career. Hopefully, he’ll get more opportunities to flex his comedic muscles.

The War with Grandpa is now playing in theaters.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.