Grintage is keen to post as many features and articles about the business of writing comedy as we can create or find. As far as we know there is not one 3rd level course dedicated to creating, writing, producing or directing visual or audio comedy in Ireland. If there is one out there great to hear more.
So we will try and fill the gap. Click on the SEARCH button on the home page for topics like Writing Sitcoms, Sitcom Plots or Tips of the Trade. Below we explore when you sit down and develop your sitcom, you need to have a think about who are your characters. Not their names but their ‘characteristics’.
Most long running series have a cast of regular characters that often are in every ep or can feature at varied times throughout the series or pop up whenever required.
So have a read and see which one of these sitcom characters fits your new script?
ENSEMBLE CAST STRUCTURE
THE NAÏF OR FOOL
Typically, this character accepts events and statements at face value and often misunderstands situations in ways
THE SOCIAL REBEL
Fairly common on British comedies from the ’60s onward; these characters at times have traits of “The naive fool”, and “The antagonist”. They have (limited) awareness that his or her actions are in some way socially unacceptable, rude or just plain dumb. At times, this character plays pranks, makes inappropriate comments and generally makes life more difficult for the other characters. This character isn’t quite an antagonist and is usually accepted (even loved) by the other characters despite their flaws. In some cases, they end up saving the day with just the right advice or sacrifice.
This character usually has an elevated intellect or “outsider” experience. The sage frequently comments wryly on the situation into which the other characters have placed themselves and often suggests solutions to resolve the major plot conflict.
THE COMIC RELIEF
The comic relief character usually exhibits eccentric personality traits and unusual reactions to commonplace situations and sometimes serves as the protagonist of the situation comedy series. This character’s strange attitudes and reactions provide opportunities for absurd or unexpected humour.
THE STRAIGHT MAN
Sometimes the spouse of the lead character, the straight man’s main purpose is to react to the comic lead’ with an often sarcastic or deadpan response, often as a foil to the naif, the wacky neighbor, or the comic relief. Often functions as the main character of the show, driving the plot by being the only seemingly sane person amidst the chaos of the show.
THE WACKY NEIGHBOR
The wacky neighbor is a stock character in situation comedy. This character is usually male (but not always), lives close to the main character, and is highly odd or just not very bright. This neighbor may be given to bizarre conspiracy theories, improbable schemes, or highly unconventional lifestyle choices. Their lives are also often clouded in mystery – see Kramer in Seinfield. The wacky neighbor generally works as a source of gags performing functions that would usually be uncharacteristic or too implausible for main characters. The explanation that the character lives “nearby” allows him or her to easily drop in and out of situations without the storyline getting too deep into the character. Typically, the wacky neighbor might barge in to the main character’s dwelling unannounced, to the chagrin of the main character.
This archetypal character functions as a primary rival, competitor, or enemy of the series’ principal character, the protagonist.
THE LADIES’ MAN / “THE MAN EATER”
The ladies’ man and the man-eater are aggressively sexual characters whose primary humor derives from their sexual exploits. Or usually lack of …
THE ETHNIC OR REGIONAL STEREOTYPE
Some sitcoms feature characters from other countries or specific regions of a country whose accents, speech patterns, mannerisms, and attitudes provide opportunities for conflict or comic relief.
Other common characters
Other recurring archetypal characters that appear in sitcoms include:
- The meddling or nosy neighbor.
- The wacky wife and her strait-laced husband.
- The wisecracking curmudgeon.
- The well meaning, but ill-fated, male blue-collar worker.
- The lovable loser.
- The acerbic servant.
- The unseen character, often mentioned and sometimes heard, but never seen.
- The cutesy moppet.
- The overprotective father.
- The meddling sibling.
- The sarcastic hero.
Before you go why not scan the list and match characters that exist in your favorite sitcoms?
E.g. Dougal / The Fool? And then match up your own?
Watch out for the grintage NEW RADIO SITCOM SEARCH in August