Last week I looked at a theory of the “comedy premise” that has to do with crossing the mundane with the unusual.
Here's that post:
This week: Creating Comedic Characters!
Using the same principle as the “premise” creation, we can craft endless numbers of comedy CHARACTERS.
The first step is to choose a comedic perspective. That's the character's way of seeing the world or a general “type” for the character. Some examples:
I think that's the idea (this stuff, like last week's, is from John Vorhaus' book “The Comic Toolkit”)
The idea goes that from your endless list of Comic Perspectives, the best ones will be the ones that are most removed from “average”.
So, a “workaholic” is not as inherently interesting as the perspective of an alien, or an extreme OCD person, or the almost-otherworldly eccentricity of Kramer from Seinfeld.
The actual phrase Vorhaus uses is “STRONG comic perspective”. The stronger (more unusual) that perspective is, the better.
The second principle to fold into this is Exaggeration. The perspective is to be exaggerated as much as you can. That can often solve the problem of perspectives that aren't as inherently “different”.
If George Costanza's perspective is “pettiness” or “selfishness” - it's not quite enough. Exaggerating this perspective to the Nth degree is what helps him become the brilliant comic character he is.
Ditto Ebenezer Scrooge and his “greed” perspective.
Jughead is not just apathetic to girls and having a hearty appetite. He's asexual and a food-chomping machine!
Though I didn't create my own comic characters this way, I've analyzed them with it, and the characters who are most “off the reservation” and exaggerated the most are by far the strongest characters, and most enjoyed by readers: Penelope is not just innocent and musclebound - she's the ultimate naive ditz, and the strongest woman in the world. TK goes against the grain in every conceivable way, and is the consummate cynic.
A lot of comedy is about extremes. So find a character's perspective, then exaggerate it!
Next time we'll add some other qualities to these half baked characters and round them out.
ciao for niao!
Banes at 12:00AM, April 20, 2017
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