May I make a request?
If you are thinking of, planning, plotting or in the midst of writing a sitcom can you please do one thing for me? It would make me happier than a pig (me) in shit (a giant packet of Monster Munch).
If you have a main character… can you make them dynamic? Pretty please.
I want to laugh at forceful characters. Personalities who try to change their world. Who drive stories and affect the other characters. Who experience huge disasters and small victories all of their own making. And that’s the important bit…they are at fault. Their situation is their own.
They can be delightfully naive or monstrously egotistical. They can love life or find it exhausting. They can dream of spinning through crowds with a machete or they can be cheery, upbeat people people. (People persons? Peoples persons? Person People?) They can be anything you want, but please make them the drive of the show, the reason for the comedy.
Now, obviously having a character who is passive, an observer, a leaf blown along on life’s wind is a perfectly valid choice. Gentle, put-upon souls who wish everyone would leave them alone but don’t have the gumption to tell them to piss off. They grimace, they sigh, they feel the blood rush to their cheeks in every awkward situation. They are the calm at the centre of a comedy tornado. Nothing wrong here.
But, surely there are enough of them out there at the moment?
Protagonists not So-so-tagonists. Yes. So-so-tagonists!
We can shout at them or shout for them, it doesn’t matter. We don’t need to want them to succeed. Big laughs can come from hoping they fall flat on their arse time and time again. Delighting in some vile creature as they fail to bend the universe to their idiotic will. Failure is funny. Like my attempts to do that cool-guy-vault over the barrier between road and pavement.
But as my mother says every time she spunks £100 on lottery tickets to win £12.57, you’ve got to be in it to win it.
And I want to see characters trying to win it.
I want stories that happen because of the characters. Not stories that happen to the characters. Stores shouldn’t happen to characters. Characters should happen to the stories.
So please. As you are writing your sitcom, give your lead character some oomph.
Gocile not docile! Yes. Gocile!