What is an Archetype? An archetype is an original model of a person, ideal example, or a prototype upon which others are copied, patterned, or emulated; a symbol universally recognized by all.
In the analysis of comedic personalities, which is what we are about to do, an archetype refers to a “stereotype”, and/or an “epitome” (someone who fits the definition of a stereotype to a tee).
I will be referring to these comedic character archetypes in reference to TV sitcoms, specifically Friends, since everyone knows who these characters are, even if only because their girlfriends and wives made you watch it.
The five comedic character archetypes are:
1. The Wisecracker
a. This character can’t stop himself from making fun of other people or from finding the humor in even the darkest situation. This character has a conflict ridden relationship with the Bully and/or Charmer, even though they are often best friends. (i.e., Chandler and Joey. Chandler being the “Wisecracker”, and Joey being the “Bully/Charmer”)
2. The Charmer
a. Generally a lover and a player. Sometimes sophisticated and sometimes far from it. (i.e., Joey)
3. The Square
a. This is often the Central Protagonist in a story and the majority of their comedic moments come from his/her reaction to a particular situation or one of the other characters. (i.e., Rachel)
4. The Dork
a. The Dork or Nerd doesn’t have to look like Steve Urkel, but when compared to the other characters in your story he is the biggest and most obvious “Dork/Nerd” by far. (i.e., Ross)
5. The Goofball
a. This is usually the most ditzy or goofy person in the story. Oftentimes it is the youngest character, who is generally an air-head. (i.e., Phoebe)
There are other, less prevalent comedic archetypes that can be worked into a story:
• The Bully – Normally doesn’t get along with the wisecracker. The bully may dislike all of the other characters.
• The Stick – a character who is 1,000 times more uptight than the square.
• The Sage – an old and wise character bestowing their unsolicited wisdom upon the younger, and more naïve, characters of the story.
• The Bigmouth – Similar to the Bully, but more likable and far more annoying. Usually manages to irritate every other character. (Can anyone say Janice!)
• The Precocious – This will be the youngest and cutest character who is nothing but sweet and adorable.
• The Meddling or Nosy Neighbor
• The Well-Meaning Blue Collar Worker
• The Lovable Loser
Stories that comedy based are normally self-contained because the story is based solely on these characters and, in a sitcom, is resolved by the end of the episode.
If you liked the content of this article please check out my website at http://www.thestartingpointpodcast.com – David Grimes II, Writer