Friday Exercise: Creating a Comedy Character 3/5

Posted on 23 May 2009

Eek! It’s Saturday! How did that happen? Probably because I spent part of Friday crying that I was about to lose a customer, money, and a friend all in one fell swoop. Nothing like running your own business to get into these sorts of tangles. I even forgot to clean the kitty litter.

So, let’s buck up and start talking about what’s fun in the world…like creating a comedy character. Last week I had you get into the skin of your character. This week we will get into your character’s psychology. I suppose we should entitle this exercise, “Nutting out the Nut.” Have you readied yourself at your keyboard and have your special character in mind?

1) Write a sentence about what your character wants.

Example: To personally shag each member of the other gender.

2) Write a sentence about what your character needs.

Example: To make a few friends.

3) Write a sentence about what they believe they should be doing/having.

Example: To settle down with a partner and have kids.

With these first three examples can you see how a character can become more interesting due to internal conflict? This provides a lot of humour when portraying the character attempting to negotiate all three motivations at the same time. They may attempt to marry the wrong person because they feel they should marry someone, then blow it because they want to reassure their sense of self esteem by shagging the first pretty thing that’s willing and able. This could lead to a revelation where they decide to focus on their friendships.

4) Write a sentence about who your character thinks they are.

Example: Alternatively an expert lothario or a bit of a loser. The insecurity of the one outlook feeds the overweening nature of the other outlook.

5) Write a sentence about how others see them.

Example: A sleeze and/or a deeply lonely person.

6) Write a sentence about how they would like to be seen.

Example: Self-assured, important, and well-loved.

7) What is good/likeable about this character?

Example: He remembers what it was like to be lonely as a kid, so he helps with a child mentoring program.

With 4-6 I’ve exposed some of this character’s vulnerabilities. With 7 we see how this character might be redeemed. For standup you might want to make your character’s good point more general, so we aren’t heading toward resolution so quickly.

Peace and kindness,


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