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Straight man (stock character)

Photo of Cliff Hall (left) and Jack Pearl from the radio program The Baron and the Bee. Pearl played the Baron and Hall, his straight man, was the Bee.

The straight man is a stock character in a comedy performance, especially a double act, sketch comedy, or farce. When a comedy partner behaves eccentrically, a straight man's response may range from aplomb to outrage, or from patience to frustration, but never laughter,[citation needed] making the partner look all the more ridiculous by being completely serious. The ability to maintain a serious demeanor in the face of even the most preposterous comedy is crucial to a successful straight man. Whatever direct contribution to the comedy a straight man provides usually comes in the form of deadpan. A straight man with no direct comedic role has historically been known as a stooge.

In vaudeville, effective straight men were much less common than comedians. The straight man's name usually appeared first and he usually received 60% of the take. This helped take the sting out of not being the laugh-getter and helped ensure the straight man's loyalty to the team.[1] Abbott and Costello, one of America's most popular comedy duos of the 1940s and 50s in radio, film and television, began as nightclub performers when the straight-faced Bud Abbott contrasted against the bumbling Lou Costello.

The role is still found today in sitcoms. In the manzai comedy of Japan, the straight man is called tsukkomi.

Contents

ExamplesEdit

FilmEdit

TV and radioEdit

Comic stripsEdit

Animated cartoonsEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Nachman, Gerald (1998). Raised on Radio, p. 36. Pantheon Books, New York. ISBN 037540287X.
  2. ^ "Arrested Development Review". Entertainment Weekly. 
  3. ^ Hanno, Alex. "Four seasons in, 'The League' still scores big". TD Review. 
  4. ^ "TV: 10 All-Time Greatest". Entertainment Weekly.