Friday, April 13, 2012

The 10 Best Characters on TV - Comedy

A successful comedy character is much different than a successful drama character. I don't necessarily need growth, or depth, I mostly just want them to make me laugh.

Warning, this list was impossible to come up with. Comedy is so much more subjective than drama, and there are so many more great ensemble casts that I got many many more suggests for comedy than I did for drama. As a result I think people are going to be more disappointed that certain characters get left off this list - its just one man's opinion after all. They'll be no ordering for comedy because I couldn't possibly rank these characters from 1-10.

Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), Parks & Rec
Explanations do Ron Swanson no justice. Instead, I can only give you this. And this. And this. And this. And this.

Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin), 30 Rock
The perfect spoof of the powerful corporate executive, and I'm not sure you could have picked anyone better than Alac Baldwin to play this role. The scenes between Baldwin and Tina Fey are what make this show great, giving it something that at least resembles reality in what's otherwise a cartoon about a sketch comedy show.

Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris), How I Met Your Mother
The boy trapped in a rich man's body, Barney has been one of the few parts of HIMYM that seems to always work - whether its the sheer comic genius of a bracket pool about which former hook-up is trying to get revenge or his season-long search about his estranged father. It says a great deal about how good Neil Patrick Harris is in the role that such a petty and shallow character can be so easy to root for. And that's not even mentioning the theories, catch-phrases or suiting up. True story.

Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin), Archer
Until Archer debuted, I had no idea how much I needed an alcoholicsex-addictedman-child secret agent in my life. The show works because its more a workplace comedy than just a spy spoof, but Archer himself is a great blend of spy cliches turned upside down. And just for Jim Young, this.

Dennis Reynolds (Glenn Howerton), It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
I really struggled with who to put on this list from Always Sunny. Charlie probably has the best scenes on the whole, and Fat Mac was pure gold this last season. But Dennis is my favorite character, playing the straight man most of the time while still fitting perfectly into the terrible, selfish, destructive dynamics of the gang. Other than Frank, he is probably the worst person on the show, be it the D.E.N.N.I.S. system or his hilariously wrong speech about implication.

Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), Parks & Rec
The heart and soul of my favorite currently running comedy (Louie is a better show but such a weird mash of styles that I don't know calling it a comedy does it justice), the re-invention of the Knope character after the first season is what made P&R great. Turning her into a super-employee in an office full of people at best going through the motions really made the show click. Knope's undying optimism is what gives the show that upbeat aura that almost every other comedy on this list lacks.

Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell), Modern Family
Phil started out as my least favorite character on the show, basically Michael Scott with a wife and kids. But while they seem to have made every other character on the show (except look) worse over the last few years, the writers have done a good job of making Phil into a more believable person. He's still needy and childish but there's enough humanity and competence built into him that it makes sense that he's able to raise and support his family.

April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza), Parks & Rec
I'm just a sucker for the dead-pan, uncaring detachedness of April. I feel like this pretty much explains it all.

Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
I'll admit to being a little behind on Curb, so I'm giving Larry David his spot based on the early seasons and the general public perception that the show is still going strong. I also couldn't leave off the essential continuation of the George Costanza character (who was basically modeled of Larry David to begin with).

Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi), Community
I admit to being only a sometimes watcher of Community, but I feel like the most meta character on the most meta show on television deserves to be on the list.

Follower Suggestions that Didn't Make the Cut
I had followers suggest the entire casts of the following shows - Community, Parks & Rec, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia & Happy Endings. I think that speaks to how strong each of those shows is and what a good job they do servicing all the characters (I do not watch Happy Endings but I plan on catching up this summer and watching next fall). Unfortunately for the sake of the list, I cannot include entire casts. No explanations here other than to say I'm not as big a Modern Family fan as a lot of people, and that while I love some individual Tom Haverford moments he's probably not one of my five favorite characters on that show.

Charlie Day, It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia
Luke Dunphy (Nolan Gould), Modern Family
Cameron Tucker (Eric Stonestreet), Modern Family
Manny Delgado (Rico Rodriguez), Modern Family
Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari), Parks & Rec
Liz Lemon (Tina Fey), 30 Rock
Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan), 30 Rock
Hank Moody (David Duchovny), Californication
Pam Poovey (Amber Nash), Archer

Follower Suggestions From Shows I Don't Watch
Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), Big Bang Theory
Schmidt (Max Greenfield), New Girl
Rafi (Jason Mantzoukas), The League
Jane Kerkovich-Williams (Eliza Coupe), Happy Endings
Max Blum (Adam Pally), Happy Endings
Kenny Powers (Danny McBride), Eastbound & Down
Leon Black, Curb Your Enthusiasm (Haven't watched these specific seasons)

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