“I see you’re drinking one percent. Is that ‘cause you think you’re fat? Cause you’re not. You could be drinking whole if you wanted to.” —Napoleon Dynamite
A great thing about comedy is that it can make us laugh and cry. Over the years, many comedy characters have been born and lived on throughout pop culture. These comedic characters are more than just funny men and women; they are iconic personalities who have been with us through the good times and the bad. From Michael Scott to Leslie Knope, join me in these facts about the best-of-the-best comedy characters.
24. So You’re Saying There’s a Chance
The film Dumb and Dumber is a classic (in my opinion), and it consists of some great comedic characters. Lloyd Christmas, played by Jim Carrey, is the protagonist, and if it weren’t for Carrey, the film may not have been made. It received piles of rejections until the filmmakers offered the part of Lloyd Christmas to Carrey because of his previous work in In Living Color and The Mask.
23. “That’s Why My Friends Call Me Whiskers.”
Saturday Night Live (SNL) has given us years of fun and laughter. With many recurring actors, one of the best has always been Will Ferrell. On one episode of SNL, Ferrell portrayed an old Harry Caray (the late MLB sportscaster) character in a skit called “Space, the Infinite Frontier with Harry Caray.” It’s hilarious—you should watch it.
22. More Wisdom
Who better to go to for more comedic wisdom than character Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation? Swanson is similar to Dwight Schrute in his strong opinions, and he’s also got some pretty classic quotes. Here’s a bit on cats and dogs: “Any dog under fifty pounds is a cat, and cats are useless.”
21. Dynamite Drawings
Napoleon Dynamite‘s Jon Heder drew most of Napoleon’s strange drawings throughout the film himself, even the one of Trisha.
20. Phoebe’s Tunes
Phoebe Buffay, played by Lisa Kudrow, is one of the six main characters in Friends. Her character has worked all kinds of jobs throughout her life, including as a caterer, TV extra, Dairy Queen employee, masseuse, and sombrero-maker.
19. Swapping Roles
Courteney Cox was originally not intended to play Monica Geller on Friends, and was actually instead originally asked to play Rachel Green. Cox turned the role down, and it ended up going, as we all know, to Jennifer Aniston.
18. Classic Seinfeld
Seinfeld was a classic TV series, and Jerry Seinfeld playing a half-version of himself was equally iconic. In 2005, Seinfeld was named the 12th greatest stand-up comedian of all time by Comedy Central. He was also the first guest to appear on The Jay Leno Show, which premiered September 14, 2009.
17. Good Ol’ Patsy Stone
Patsy Stone was a great character in the BBC sitcom Absolutely Famous. Stone’s character, played by Joanna Lumley, was influenced and inspired by Lumely’s appearance on the TV series The Full Wax. In the series, Lumley portrayed a washed-up actress struggling in her career and self-medicating with booze and drugs. At the time, this was a bit of an image-departure for Lumley, who was seen as a bit of an English Rose.
16. Happy Accident
Charlie Chaplin, comedic legend, has played in some iconic roles. His most iconic is perhaps the role of The Tramp, a character he played in many films during the silent film era. Interestingly, The Tramp was actually created by accident. As Chaplin related, “I was hurriedly told to put on a funny make-up. This time I went to the wardrobe and got a pair of baggy pants, a tight coat, a small derby hat and a large pair of shoes. I wanted the clothes to be a mass of contradictions, knowing pictorially the figure would be vividly outlined on the screen. To add a comic touch, I wore a small mustache which would not hide my expression. My appearance got an enthusiastic response from everyone…The clothes seemed to imbue me with the spirit of the character. He actually became a man with a soul—a point of view.”
15. Thank You, Roseanne
The success of Roseanne Barr’s Roseanne helped to set the tone and trend for further sitcoms featuring comedians. Shows such as Ellen, Home Improvement, and Everybody Loves Raymond were greenlit based on the success of Roseanne.
14. Sheldon the Genius
Sheldon Cooper, star character in The Big Bang Theory, is an odd, perplexing, and fascinating person. Not only is he a genius, but he uses his intelligence for some random things such as robot combat, knowing the location of the retroreflectors on the Moon’s surface, and computing the optimal seating position in his apartment.
13. Amy Farrah Fowler
What a name: Amy Farrah Fowler. This Big Bang Theory character is another genius, and she’s so smart that throughout the seasons she has been able to manipulate her boyfriend, Sheldon, into doing things through a reward system, to the point that Sheldon isn’t aware of his compliance until later.
12. The Golden Girls
Rose Nylund of The Golden Girls was one of Betty White’s greatest comedy characters. White has her own personal favorite episode: “A Little Romance,” where Nylund is nervous to bring home her new boyfriend, who is a little person.
11. A Great Comparison for a New Girl
New Girl star Zooey Deschanel plays the hilarious Jessica Day, and New Girl creator Elizabeth Meriwether was inspired by Diane Keaton when creating her character.
Homer Simpson apparently has a pretty low IQ, but it’s not all his fault! He’s been exposed to radioactive waste, has something of an alcohol problem, received cranial trauma countless times, and even had a crayon stuck in the frontal lobe of his brain.
9. British Classic
Mr. Bean is one of the greatest comedy characters of all time, but the character of Mr. Bean was developed by actor Rowan Atkinson well before his TV debut on January 1, 1990. Atkinson developed the character in a sketch at Oxford University, where he was pursuing a master’s degree in electrical engineering.
A sad fact about Mr. Bean is that his TV series only lasted 14 episodes, despite the character having two films in his name, an animated series, a video game, and many books.
7. The Jewish Doctor
Borat‘s Sacha Baron Cohen was vacationing in Russia when he met a Jewish doctor who became the inspiration for his Kazakh comedic character. Though the doctor was neither racist nor anti-Semitic, he was apparently very funny.
6. Come on Toby
The American Office’s Michael Scott, played by Steve Carell, has always had his fair share of hate for character Toby Flenderson. Recently, Steve Carell made prank joke about The Office returning to NBC, which upset some fans when they found out it wasn’t true. Always on form, Carell then tweeted, “My account was hacked by Toby Flenderson.”
5. Dwight Wisdom
Dwight Schrute from The Office has had some memorable quotes. Often, these hilarious phrases seem to contain some Shrute wisdom. Here’s an example: “Whenever I’m about to do something, I think, ‘Would an idiot do that?’ And if they would, I do not do that thing.”
4. Interesting Heritage
Like the Simpsons, Family Guy has remained one of the longest-running and consistently hilarious animated TV series of all-time. Peter Griffin ranks high on any list of comedy characters, but did you know he actually has both Irish and Mexican heritage?
3. Nick & Tran
Have you ever seen New Girl? One of the show’s best characters is Nick Miller, played by Jake Johnson. In one episode of the hit TV show, Miller meets a random, late-aged Asian man who doesn’t say a word but has a “nice face,” according to Miller. The series goes on to use this random character, Tran, as someone of importance to Miller’s character growth, and he helps Miller through his problems without saying a word as Miller vents and talks aloud. The character, Tran, was actually Johnson’s idea.
2. Vote Knope
Leslie Knope is the star character of the hit TV series Parks and Recreation. Her character—played by Amy Poehler—has a whole lot of love for politicians, and Knope has a scene where she meets the Mayor of the fictional town of Pawnee. The Mayor was played by Bill Murray, whom Poehler thought would be great to have as a guest star on the show.
1. Fat Guy in a Little Coat
A list of classic comedians would not be compete without Chris Farley. As a prominent member of Saturday Night Live, Farley used his boisterous humor to give audiences a roar for years. His career took off when he started making movies, beginning with Tommy Boy. The classic “Fat guy in a little coat” scene was inspired from an old joke Farley and David Spade had going back in the SNL days. As Spade recalled, “When we shared an office, he would sit behind me and he didn’t write or read, so he would be bored. He’d stand behind me and go, ‘David, turn around.’ I’d go, ‘Dude, I’m busy.’ He goes, ‘Come on.’ I’d go, ‘If this is fat guy in a little coat, it’s not funny. It’s played out.’ He goes, ‘It’s not. It’s a whole different thing I got going.’ Then he’d have my Levi jacket on and go, ‘Fat guy in a little coat! Don’t you give up on it!’”
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