The Eight Characters of Comedy

The Eight Characters of Comedy

I’ve been re-watching Cheers on Netflix. It was a childhood staple along with Night Court and Three’s Company. Later it was Seinfeld, The Simpsons, Just Shoot Me, Arrested Development and Scrubs (I’ve watched every episode at least twice). I love making people laugh and I’ve always been drawn to comedy. I recently finished UCB 401. And I also recently picked up Scott Sedita’s Eight Characters of Comedy. Here’s my review.

This book is gold for anyone that’s interested in pursuing a career in TV comedy because it lays out the archetypes, their motivations and the keys/pitfalls of playing them. Obviously there are shades of grey and characters flip back and forth, but they usually have one driving motivation. He also lays out the intentions for each and provides ample examples of the characters throughout TV history, as well as scripts, to demonstrate the character’s actions as well as the keys of comedy – set ups, patterns and switches.

Here are the Eight characters:

  • The Logical One – The audience. The voice of reason.
  • The Lovable Loser – The com in sitcom. Constantly making mistakes in their quest to get what they want.
  • The Neurotic – They act abnormal under normal circumstances. Expect things to turn out a certain way and get upset when it doesn’t.
  • The Dumb One – The best friend or sidekick. Comedic relief with a one liner or a glance.
  • The Bitch/Bastard – They bring the edginess. The audience POV, but meaner and more clever.
  • The Womanizer/Manizer – The flirt. They want sex any time, all the time.
  • The Materialistic One – The pampered ones. Shallow.
  • In Their Own Universe – Edgiest characters because they can say and do almost anything.

While researching comedy archetypes and Cheers, I ran across this fantastic read from Vulture Magazine – Parks and Recreation Showrunner Michael Schur Gives a Master Class on His Favorite Comedy, Cheers.