Definition: comical, causing amusement or laughter
Characters in Literature: Fred & George Weasley (Harry Potter); Mia (Princess Diaries); Willy Wonka (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)
Common Portrayals: Comedians, class clowns, nighttime talk show hosts, sitcom actors
Clichés to Avoid: Pairing the funny trait with clumsiness; toilet humor; school/college pranksters; the single class clown, friends who have no endearing qualities or attributes other than to be the group’s comic relief
Twists on the Traditional Funny Character:
- Most characters KNOW they are funny–they work on it, live for it. Show us a character who is funny to everyone else, but doesn’t find himself funny in the least.
- Hilarious moments often occur when a character says or does something at an inappropriate time. Pick the most inappropriate situation you can think of, and create stakes where there are grave consequences if your funny character doesn’t get the laughs.
- Often a funny character shines because he’s the joker of the group. Give him some competition and see if he rises to the challenge–you might end up with double the laughs!
Build a worthy protagonist with a mix of unique strengths that will help him overcome obstacles and achieve meaningful goals.
This sample, along with the rest of the character trait entries, has been expanded into book form. Together, the bestselling NEGATIVE TRAIT THESAURUS: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO CHARACTER FLAWS and POSITIVE TRAIT THESAURUS: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO CHARACTER ATTRIBUTES contain over 200 traits for you to choose from when creating memorable, compelling characters. Each entry contains possible causes for the trait, as well as positive and negative aspects, traits in supporting characters that may cause conflict, and associated behaviors, attitudes, thoughts, and emotions. For more information on this bestselling book and where it can be found, please visit our bookstore.
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Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling.
Kelly Polark says
Love, love , love funny characters.
Martha Ramirez says
What an awesome post! Very helpful. For some reason I always have a “funny” character in my project. Thanks for the tips!
Traci Kenworth says
Gotta love quirky characters. They’re there to enliven the show.
Leslie Rose says
Love that you brought up the pressure of staying funny once you are dubbed funny. A character that hides insecurity behind humor always attracts me.
This is brilliant. I will use this for my goblins.
Angela Ackerman says
Hi Nat–glad this helps!
Angela–great points–I’ll add that to the core entry for easy reference!
Great entry! Another thing that could go under the negative aspect: I know I’ve found that when a guy is always “on”, cracking jokes left and right (and good ones, he’s truly funny), I’ve actually been wary of dating someone like that for several reasons. 1) I wonder if they can ever turn it off and if not, that would be exhausting and 2) it can be a little intimidating to be around someone like that all the time. Sometimes the funny ones can end up being very lonely.
Natalie Aguirre says
Thanks for sharing the tips. I’m not a funny person in general so I can really use them if I ever decide to try to create someone funny.