Recently, Ive started teaching how to play comedic and dramatic roles to their fullest. To do this, one must know the ins and outs of both, the role types, styles of comedy and drama, ect.
While there are several different styles of comedy (Some examples being Anecdotal, Anti-humor, Deadpan, Improv, ect) , there are also different types of ROLES in comedy.
Now with roles, I don't mean characters you accept and parts in shows. But rather more like archetypes that have different comedy styles and also how they play up certain other characters and types.
Knowing these types will make you a better actor, be able to handle humor and comedy scenes with more finesse, and improv your booking comedic character roles in the future.
Comedy and Drama go hand in hand, to focus and learn one without the other is to limit yourself. If you want to focus on comedy only, you'll only go so far and will probably not be as good at comedy as someone who can understand the drama side as well. While you may take comedy to 80%, an actor trained in both comedy and drama can take it to 100%. You'll see this a lot with comedians. Many comedians are able to delve into dramatic roles incredibly well because of the parts of comedy they understand.
Comedy and Drama are both extremes of human emotion and most emotional and tactical choices a character will make will be based in one of these two field.
To fully understand one, we need to understand the other. For this class, they will be divided into separate days to give you time to process the information when you come back to the other.
"Why Do I need To Know These Two Anyway?"
No matter film, theatre, video game, radio play, cartoon, animation, anime, or even commercial; Comedy and Drama will be at the heart of it all. The overall piece, emotion, take away, tactic, vibe, everything will root from one of these two.
I can not over emphasize how important it true is to at least master one of these. You will naturally have a favorite you lean towards, but to favor one more heavily in education than the other is to strong limit your career and role potential
In this months blog, I want to explain the differences between the 4 main comedy roles: Straight Man, Fool, Jester, and Self Defeating
You will see these roles played several times throughout your career, shows you watch, games you play, ect. Keep an eye out for these all this month and you'll notice how EVERY Comedic role relies on at least one of these.
The Straight Man is referring to a person who is the one who sets up the punchline. They are normally the person acting normally in an abnormal situation, baffled by whats going on, annoyed, ect.
Examples: Buddys Dad in Elf
Squidward in Spongebob Squarepants
This can also be someone who takes things too literally. Castiel in Supernatural.
They are characters who can embody out the audience sense of grounding, realisim, and our lack of emersion in the story.
The Jester And The Fool Comedy is often a dance between the fool and the jester. The Fool being the one the joke is played upon, the one who doesnt get it, the one the joke is made at the expensive of.
The Fool doesn't always mean someone isnt smart. Sometimes people play up the fool idea for jokes. Other times, the fool can be seen more as the straight man role.
Here you can see both roles highlighted well. And what's unique is that whos playing the Jester and whos playing the Fool depends on the point of view. From the offices perspective, Buddy is the Fool, showing up in an outfit, singing poorly. But we as the audience, know him as the Jester and the Father as the Fool. This is because we see the truth from Buddies side. We also see the Father as the Straight Man, whos not believing or buying any of it. These two dynamics, no matter which side you view it from, make the two characters stand out and play well against each other most of the movie.
This is also scene VERY well in the early episodes of Spongebob Squarepants (Think back to scenes where spongebob tries to hitchhike, drives a rock, ect)
There can be exceptions where someone plays both roles and to keep the audience happy and the character likeable, they normally mix the two.
The Fool doesn't always mean someone isn't smart. Sometimes people play up the fool idea for jokes. Other times, the fool can be seen more as the straight man role.
An Example of "The Fool" even though the performer is clearly playing up the role of the Fool, it still showcases it well
This is a form where the actor plays both The Fool and The Jester. Hes smart enough to orchestrate all of the punchlines, situations, and jokes, but makes himself the Fool as well. This is normally used in stories about the person feeling like a dumbass.
Once you learn how to master these 4 types of archetypes, as well as many of the comedy forms out there, you will highly increase your chances of booking more comedic roles as an actor.
If you'd like to learn more about comedy types, Please consider my Performance Bootcamp where you can learn about 20 different types of comedy as well as drama!