Of all the comedy tropes out there, which one is your favorite? Slapstick? Ironic? Dead Baby? Mine is Fish out of water: a character is placed in a situation they have no experience in dealing with, and have to try and make the most of it.
While there are countless examples of this trope happening in fiction, one of my favorite happened two years ago for the release of ‘Doctor Strange,’ where talkshow host Jimmy Kimmel has the Sorcerer Supreme, Dr. Strange, come to perform tricks for a birthday party. Predictably, shenanigans ensue. Let’s see what we can learn from this amusing tale of an infinity stone wielding sorcerer taking on the terror of hyperactive children:
For instant comedy, have your larger than life character go to a child’s birthday party
There are a handful of situations all-but guaranteed to generate instant comedy, and having your character go to a child’s birthday party is one of them. Think about it: Any character who goes to a birthday party in an attempt to entertain children will look ridiculous . Don’t believe me? Imagine the following people and characters making balloon animals for kids:
•An Imperial stormtrooper
If you want instant comedy, putting your character at a child’s birthday party is a great way to make it happen, especially if they’re larger than life, out-of-the-ordinary characters.
Consider having your character not be above being bought for a service
Heroes are supposed to be above such pitiful human failings as greed, selflessly devoting themselves to helping others free of charge… which makes for a nice subversion whenever they decide to do something just for the money, especially if it’s an embarrassing task. Here, it’s amusing to see that Dr. Strange, master of the mythical arts, isn’t above doing something just for the money. Sometimes, a little touch of greed can show that, underneath all the superpowers, abilities, and willpower, even the most powerful humans are still… well, only human.
Consider having your character be terrible at their attempted task
We all admire someone who, when faced with something they’re not prepared for, still tries to do it anyway. Of course, not everything goes as we’d hoped, and sometimes they fail, as Strange does here. For all his skill at fending off inter-dimensional demons and creating time loops, Strange has zero skill in making balloon animals, and he looks hilarious just trying. Better still, he knows it and doesn’t care; he just wants that $150 dollars. While we may admire someone who tries and fails, we can laugh at seeing someone not giving a… well, you know, as they barely try at all, and carry that same attitude over to their interactions with people who don’t like that ‘I could care less’ attitude.
For instant comedy, consider having your character try to entertain children at a birthday party, which, in addition to making them look utterly silly, gives a chance to show a little more of their human side by having them do it just for money and not really caring how it turns out.