The Twenty Masks Of Comedy

He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad. —Raphael Sabatini

Theater began in Greece with one actor in a variety of masks playing all parts. In humor, there are approximately twenty major and distinctive character masks. But each comedian can have only one. The paradox is that it must be a perfect characterization of an imperfect character. The character can be anything from an erudite scholar to a simpleton, a suburban yuppie, even a dope addict, a sexual deviate, a braggart, a tightwad, a drunk, or a coward (and that should take in every friend you've got).

Each of the following twenty choices is broad enough to have a number of variations; there is also a great deal of overlapping.

The twenty basic stock characters are categorized into three basic groups: the single, the team, and the actor (with props). While sometimes the character was found first and fiction became fact, in the majority of cases the character fit the personality of the performer, complementing physical appearance and speech ability as well as talent. The foundation was honed; it was not fabricated.

The Twenty Masks of Comedy The Single

1. The Stand-up

2. The Aggressor

3. The Sad Sack

4. The Druggie Rebel

5. The Student

6. The Political and Social Satirist

7. The Storyteller

8. The Rube

9. The Old Timer

10. The Ethnic Type

11. The Immigrant

The Team

12. Partners

13. The Sketch Performer

14. The Ventriloquist

The Actor

15. The Impersonator

16. The Clown

17. The Artists, Musicians, and Cartoonists

18. The Vaudevillian

19. The Improvisers

20. The Bumbler

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