Hey, Caleb. Maybe “foil.” Or why use a label at all? Call the character by his name. As for what’s “current,” I’m the wrong guy to ask.

“So there’s these two character Dan and Mike. Dan tends to take the world on a literal tech guy. Everything’s ones and zeros to him. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, Dan wants to know how long can it run on batteries. And Mike’s like this go-with-the-flow, Zen guy. If his house was on fire, Dan would see it as an opportunity for a neighborhood weenie roast. Dan’s tendency to be literal makes him the perfect foil to Mike’s fluidity.”

Bad example, but I hope you get the idea. Labels are shorthand for bigger concepts. Unless you’re doing an elevator pitch, you, Caleb, look better if you can clearly define your characters is new ways that don’t rely on tired cliché labels like “straight man.”

That’s the key to stand-up. They present you with familiar ideas or situations that everyone can identify with, but then they switch it up. It’s that whole element of surprise thing. Think of the really good stand-up artists, they lead you down a path you’re familiar with and then you realize they just totally flipped it on you by adding that element of surprise.

Did that make any sense at all?

I think I’m rambling now …

Written by

Artist, actor, author, editorial director of Our Human Family (http://medium.com/our-human-family). Connect via social media: @clayrivers. Love one another.

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