The 8 Characters of Comedy

The Eight Characters of Comedy: A Guide to SitCom Acting & Writing

By Scott Sedita

If you are looking for a breakdown of the formulas of comedy, I recommend this book.

Remember, A) just because you use the archetypes that Sedita identifies, it doesn’t mean your show/character will be hackneyed and B) just because a character is primarily of these 8 doesn’t mean that they don’t explore other sides of their personality.

Who are the 8 Characters?

  1. The Logical Smart One – responsible, stable
  2. The Lovable Loser – sarcastic, optimistic, needy, impulsive
  3. The Neurotic – awkward, nervous, controlling, worried
  4. The Dumb One – friendly, naïve, gullible, no ulterior motive
  5. The Bitch/Bastard – mean, insensitive, insecure, doesn’t apologize
  6. The Womanizer/Manizer (AKA “Slutty Spice”) – charming, seductive, horny, superficial
  7. The Materialistic One – judgmental, entitled, spoiled
  8. In Their Own Universe (AKA “Spacy Spice”) – odd, eccentric, uses illogical logic

I tried to find these characters in sitcoms that I watched. There is definitely room for interpretation and, for a long-lasting series, like Friends, characters will probably take a turn in each of these archetypes.

Post a list for your favorite show or let me know if you disagree with my lists.

Arrested Development

  1. The Logical Smart One – Michael, George Sr., George Michael (sometimes Maeby)
  2. The Lovable Loser – George Michael, Tobias
  3. The Neurotic – Tobias, George Michael
  4. The Dumb One – Gob, Maeby
  5. The Bitch/Bastard – Lucille
  6. The Womanizer/Manizer – Gob/Lindsay
  7. The Materialistic One – Lindsay
  8. In Their Own Universe – Buster

Friends

  1. The Logical Smart One – Monica (occasionally Chandler, Ross, Monica, Phoebe)
  2. The Lovable Loser – Ross, Chandler (I think all of them have moments here)
  3. The Neurotic – Monica, Chandler, Ross (same here)
  4. The Dumb One – Joey
  5. The Bitch/Bastard – None, they are Friends!
  6. The Womanizer/Manizer – Joey
  7. The Materialistic One – Rachel (this kind of faded away overtime)
  8. In Their Own Universe – Phoebe

Will & Grace

  1. The Logical Smart One – Will
  2. The Lovable Loser – Will, Grace
  3. The Neurotic – Will, Grace
  4. The Dumb One – Jack
  5. The Bitch/Bastard – Jack, Karen
  6. The Womanizer/Manizer – Jack? (I think all of them spend time here)
  7.  The Materialistic One – Jack, Grace
  8.  In Their Own Universe – Jack, Karen

Scrubs

  1. The Logical Smart One – Carla, Turk
  2. The Lovable Loser – JD
  3. The Neurotic – Eliot
  4. The Dumb One – Todd
  5. The Bitch/Bastard – Perry, Kelso,
  6. The Womanizer/Manizer -Todd
  7. The Materialistic One – Eliot
  8. In Their Own Universe (AKA “The Spacy One”) – Janitor

Community

  1. The Logical Smart One – Shirley, Troy
  2. The Lovable Loser – Britta
  3. The Neurotic – Annie
  4. The Dumb One – Pierce
  5. The Bitch/Bastard – Jeff, Pierce
  6. The Womanizer/Manizer – Jeff?
  7. The Materialistic One – Jeff
  8. In Their Own Universe (AKA “The Spacy One”) – Abed, Chang, Dean

Sedita lays out some comedy guidelines. Obligatory Note: All rules are meant to be broken.

Rules of Comedy:

  1. Chose a specific character with specific personality traits
  2. Be committed to the character
  3. Good comedy comes from pain and conflict
  4. Follow the script and punctuation (for delivery, know your lines and make to pause for commas and periods)
  5. Be Louder!
  6. Be Faster!
  7. Be Funnier!
  8. Hold for laughs (if in front of a crowd or live-audience)
  9. Don’t mug for a laugh/ Don’t distract from verbal humor with physical movement
  10. Have fun!

Sedita, who teaches acting classes, promotes a simple and easy-to-remember method of character analysis.

Analyze the Script (WOFAIM):

  • Want – What does the character want?
  • Obstacle – What obstacles are standing in the way?
  • Feeling – What feelings will you explore in the scene?
  • As If – What is your personal substitution? What can you draw from in your own life to relate to your character?
  • Intentions – What will your character do to get what they want? What actions will they take?
  • Moment Before – What was happening before this scene? Physically and emotionally, where is your character coming from?

I’mwriting screenplay, a comedy, with my friend and, since I don’t have experience with writing fiction, I found this to be helpful. The point of Sedita’s book isn’t to put your characters in a box or provide a rote method of acting or writing, but to open your eyes to commonly used character types that allow for conflict (which will lead to funny situations).

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