Free Character Writing Prompts #46:
Laugh it up with these character writing prompts based on some of my favorite people in the world: comedians. It seems that even a movie by stand-up comedians, for stand-up comedians called Funny People, perpetuated many stereotypes of comedians. It turns out that comedians that do stand-up only make up a small minority of all the people that would consider themselves as comedy practitioners. This may include those who do it as part of a theater on an improvisational team, those who tour as a travelling sketch comedy troupe and others who may use their comedic chops to create viral videos. While comedians love telling jokes and often try to be the funniest one in the room, their backgrounds and reasons for comedy can be drastically different from each other.
Free Character Writing Prompts #46: Comedians
1. You were amazed to find out that one of the top comedians in the city was going to be hanging out with your group of friends that night. You expected that he would have you all on the floor laughing before the drinks came out. Instead, you found out that he was a normal guy just like the rest of you. He didn't even crack any jokes which surprised you thoroughly. You'd seen his act and you knew that he was one of the wittiest, most intelligent people in existence. Perhaps, you thought, he just wanted to be normal like the rest of us. What are some other hidden surprises about this extremely funny individual?
2. When you first got into comedy, you assumed that everybody would be a drunken slob who could barely even make it to the stage of an open mic. He was the complete opposite as he'd never had a single sip of alcohol, a puff of smoke or a Sunday without a several hour session of church. And yet, he was one of the strangest, goofiest stand-up comedians in the city. It took him a long time to learn the difference between corny and quirky, but it was a line he walked quite well during his routines. He had an odd tendency to burst into song whenever a title of a song was mentioned. How did such a straight-edged fellow end up in the world of comedy and how does he feel when many others in his company are imbibing?
3. You'd heard talk of her legend months before you signed up for her comedy class. She cussed like a sailor who enjoyed talking about female genitalia. She was absolutely fearless on stage and was willing to do anything for a laugh, but not anything that would compromise her integrity. She was loud and emotional and you would in no way want to be a telemarketer calling her in the middle of dinner. She was also a good mom and you wondered what it was like to be raised in such a household. You made every effort to be in as many of her classes as possible, hoping her filthy genius would rub off on you. How did she come into comedy and has her brash persona helped or hurt her in her career?
4. She was a master of changing quickly from one character to another. Each of those characters was incredibly quirky and odd, which made the audiences align themselves with her from the beginning of each of her comedy shows. She hoped one day to become a star in the world of humor, but she had a difficult time finding her way past the local comedy scene. Part of it was because she had a constant fear that she wasn't good enough, stemming from a lack of encouragement during most of her life. On one hand she knew she was funny, but on the other hand she felt she'd never get to the level of a Kristin Wiig or Tina Fey. What will it take for her to take her comedy to the next level?
5. He was a big fellow and nearly everything he did on stage caused a belly laugh. Sure, he was willing to do the Chris Farley-esque falling through a table and wearing of clothes that were too tight for him, but he also had a wittiness usually reserved for the skinny, sarcastic types. He loved life and he loved food and those who were close to him made efforts to help him to become healthier. They worried that the early deaths of his idols like Farley and John Belushi would set him down the same path. He wasn't as wild as the two of them but it was hard not to see the similarities emerging. What will the rest of his career be like if he continues to consume life at a consistent rate?
6. For this comedic genius, every time he got on stage it was as if he was roasting his fellow comedians. He was brilliant at poking fun at his peers and his audience members. It always sent the audience into a frenzy when he got on a roll, but it tended to antagonize those who worked with him, who felt like he was feeding them to the wolves for a laugh or two. He had a difficult time turning his stage persona off when he hung out with friends and they began to distance themselves from him. His girlfriend of many years broke it off with him, telling him that she made her self-esteem too low. Will this funny man continue his insulting comedic style or will he tone it down overall to make amends with his relationships?
7. In her teens, she grew tired of all the talk that women weren't as funny as men. She embarked on a quest to beat them at their own game. If her fellow male comedians took on gross humor, she would out-gross them. If they went into the realm of sexual chatter, she would over sexualize them. She refused to back down from a challenge and was a fan favorite in her town. Her friends loved her to pieces and her guy friends especially said, unsurprisingly, that she was, "like one of the guys." This made it tough for her to snag a guy in a relationship, because she was often regarded as a "bro" instead of "girlfriend material." She hated this double standard and refused to give into the way that society thought a woman should be. When she was cast in a television pilot that was picked up for a full season, she felt validated about her beliefs that men and women were equal comedically. What will her first year be like shooting this new television project and will she find a partner who appreciates her for who she is?
8. She was what some would call a brilliant ditz. On stage, she was frequently cast as the idiot cheerleader who was more likely to get tricked into having sex with a suitor than get a question right on a math exam. She had perfected this art form, even though she was an absolute genius in real life. She sometimes lamented that she had been pigeonholed into such an image in her performances, but she'd also always wanted to make ends meet through comedy and she was able to do that by portraying a dumb blond five nights a week. Upon getting married and having her first child, she considered not going back to comedy, since her image had been more or less branded on her. Will she continue her comedic career or focus more on her family (or both)?
9. As the only non-white comedian on his team, his race was frequently called out to comedic effect. It wasn't his peers that were the only ones who did it, as he knew he could bring himself out to tell a somewhat racist joke and the audience always got a kick out of it. He wondered sometimes if he would have been considered funny enough to be on the team if he didn't fulfill a sort of "ethnic requirement." As a result, he couldn't help but feel a bit distant from his teammates. He had a few opportunities to join groups that were comprised completely of his race alone, but he wasn't sure if that the direction he wanted to go either. Will his comedic chops ever stand out for the right reason and will he ever be able to feel more connected with his teammates?
10. She had been an acclaimed dramatic actress for over a decade and was well-known throughout the town for her ability to cry in an instant and to make the audience do the same. But this wasn't all that she wanted from performance as she wanted to make them laugh as well. This wasn't nearly as easy a task for her and she began taking beginner comedy classes. Her teachers assumed that all she needed was a little practice and she'd be set, but her instincts for drama left her a bit out to dry as a comedian. She simply didn't know how to be funny. She hired one of the funniest comedians in town to live with her for a week and teach her everything about comedic timing and jokes. How does she fare in her crash course in comedy?
Did you enjoy these character writing prompts? Keep an eye out for the book 1,000 Character Writing Prompts in late 2011.
Done with Character Writing Prompts about Comedians? Go back to Creative Writing Prompts.
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Written by Bryan Cohen
Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20,000 copies. You can find him on Google+ and Facebook.
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