The Sad Sack

I went to my psychiatrist. I said, "Doc, I have this terrible feeling that everyone is trying to take advantage of me." He said, "Relax. Everyone thinks somebody else is trying to take advantage of them." "Gee, thanks, Doc. How much do I owe you?" "How much have you got?"

Rodney Dangerfield practically owns this character at present, but it has been a comedy standard for hundreds of years. The comic plays the insecure, timid Milquetoast, always seeking approval, confused by women, unable to get dates or make any relationship work.

I took my girl to a drive-in movie and she said, "Do you want to get in the back seat?" And I said, "No. I want to stay up here with you."

The audience delights in laughing at the plight of others. This is one of the easiest characters to use when you're a neophyte performer trying to get your first laughs. The trick is to get the audience to like you immediately; otherwise they have no sympathy and are happy to see you get what you deserve. Thus the opening joke is far more important here than in most other categories.

Garry Shandling and Jackie Gleason are just two examples of practitioners of this style of humor that might be called "seeing the world through woes-colored glasses." Every joke is self-deprecating:

I'm dating a girl now... who's unaware of it, evidently.

—Garry Shandling

Because it fitted his physical appearance, Gleason did a lot of fat jokes:

I do fat humor because sex for a fat man is much ado about puffing.

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