1)The greatest advantage of portraying a defined character is that you’ll have instant connection with your crowds. They’ll know what to expect from you.
2) A defined character makes it easy to write. Knowing your angle allows you to frame every premise towards your character’s sensibilities. Plus, if you reach Larry the Cable Guy’s stature, it’s easy to hire a cable of writers since they know your voice and your audience.
3) Your jokes become your jokes. They can’t be stolen or hacked upon. For example, if a comic tried doing “You know you’re a redneck” type jokes, or some variation of this, he or she would be called out by other comics.
4) Stage characters become marketing machines. Fans gobble up every form of merchandise ranging from t-shirts and hats to DVDs and bumper stickers, creating a shockingly lucrative cottage industry for yourself.
5) Characters can be spun into sitcoms. Talent scouts who attend comedy festivals are not necessarily looking for the funniest comedian, but instead ones with point of views that carry sitcom potential. Ray Romano and Rosanne Barr are two prime examples.
The lone negative is that you’ll forever be typecast. Every time you walk on stage you’ll be required to be your character. There’s no escape.
To understand this, imagine if you went to see Don Rickles and not once did he attack the crowd, preferring instead to tell dog jokes. As a fan you’d be disappointed and leave the venue feeling cheated.
Dustin Diamond, the actor who played Screech in the show Saved by the Bell, is a classic example. He now works as a struggling stand-up comedian. He draws crowds not as Dustin Diamond, but as Screech. Consequently, there’s disappointment from his fans when they hear him telling pot jokes.
Richard Lewis has been known to bomb when he deviates from his Jewish shtick.
Once you’re established you are locked in for the entire ride.