Ben & Lance: Tour de Funny

07/28/2004 at 06:00 AM EDT

Ben & Lance: Tour de Funny
Ben Stiller and Lance Armstrong
Lee Roth/StarMax; Prevost/Presse Sports/ABACA
Newly crowned Tour de France champ Lance Armstrong has won countless fans across the globe, but one of his funniest is Ben Stiller. Stiller, who cast Armstrong in Dodgeball, tells Insider: "It's hard to understand how someone can do all that on a physical level. But having gotten a chance to know him, he's a very normal sort of guy." But not normal like you and me. "I read his book a couple of years ago," says Stiller. "Here was a guy who had beaten cancer. His story is so amazing that after I read it I felt, 'That's incredible. I am so inspired.' And then I thought, 'Wow, I really suck.' "

In Dodgeball there's a scene where the main character needs to get motivated. "We started thinking, 'Who is the most inspirational person in the world?' " says Stiller, "and we thought of Lance. Wouldn't it be funny if he ran into Lance Armstrong and Lance said, 'I thought about quitting, too.'" Eager to do some comedy, Armstrong said yes without reading the script. And how was his performance? "He really understood how important it is to play it straight in order to make it funny," says Stiller. "He underplayed the whole scene perfectly. Most people take him so seriously that they are intimidated by him. But he's got a great sense of humor about himself."

Free Association
We asked Will & Grace's Sean Hayes for his quick takes on a few hot topics.
Jail time for Martha Stewart: "I wanna say sad, but I do think she's being made an example of."
Jeopardy! winner Ken Jennings: "Lotta free time."
Whoopi getting fired by SlimFast for Bush joke: "What happened to free speech?"
Sharon Stone in a Basic Instinct sequel: (Laughs) It's too easy.
2004 Presidential Race: "I really hope people educate themselves in America and make the right decision in voting for Kerry."
Reality TV: "It definitely has its place, but I don't think it's here to stay.

More on AOL

Basket Case
If you're on Sigourney Weaver's gift list, get ready. Before filming M. Night Shyamalan's period film The Village, Weaver had to attend a kind of 19th-century boot camp, where she learned how to make fire and plow fields, not to mention how to create various crafts. "I made my best friend a Shaker basket that I had dyed in walnut water. I made my husband some rabbit mittens," says Weaver. Also on the list were an iron trivet, a knitted muffler and a pine-needle basket. "There are a lot of interesting presents to be had," she says. Aww, does that mean we won't be getting a TiVo?

• By ALICIA DENNIS, ANNE MARIE CRUZ and CAROLINE HOWARD

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