A comedian will spend their whole life trying to perfect their shtick. From the moment they first make someone laugh to the end of their career; comedians are always writing jokes. It is insane to think about how much effort goes into a comedian trying to master their craft. For every joke an audience hears, numerous other ones were thrown away.
That is why comedians are a different breed. They are wired differently than the rest of us. They see humor in everyday life that the common person cannot see. A comedian will spend countless hours tinkering with what is funny and what is not. They enjoy the grind. They enjoy the clubs. They enjoy the crowd. What makes so many of them want to be taken serious than?
Nearly every big time comedian or comedic actor has attempted to play a serious character in a movie at some point or another. Why though? What makes some of the funniest people on the planet want to take on a serious role? The answer is actually not that difficult. Although it is pretty interesting.
Being serious normally comes in the twilight of a career or when a comedian is at a crossroad in his life. It can happen when they are bored with comedy or when they just want to show their range. It can happen when they want to reinvent their image or when they have become too big for their own good.
Yes, a comedian can be too famous for his own good. It happens all the time. A comedian will hit it big and then their fans will laugh at everything they do. Isn’t that what they want though? Not necessarily. A comedian knows what is funny. If fans are laughing at everything, even the unfunny jokes, than a comedian knows he is too big. At that point, the fans have rendered all of the hours a comedian has spent working on his act useless. A comedian no longer has to try to be funny. He just is. He becomes the joke, the punchline. An audience is not laughing with them, they are just laughing at them. Comedians do not want the easy way out. They are proud people. They are proud of all the hard work that goes into being considered funny.
That feeling of pride often stems from childhood. A lot of comedians are actually battered souls. They are thinkers too. They use comedy as a way to mask emotions. They can also use it as a crutch. Many comedians will mention how they were not popular in their younger years, did not have a lot of friends, and even had trouble at home. Comedy became their band aid. Laughter is more pleasing to the ears than crying and screaming and name calling.
Comedians also love praise. Laughter is a comedian’s praise. Clapping, along with hoots and hollers is music to their ears. Even if the approval has not stopped, a different kind of admiration can be a warm welcome. Occasionally it comes down to respect. Comedians can be loved, but they are not always respected like others in the entertainment industry. Think about the Oscars. There is no best comedic actor category. The biggest night in Hollywood sees the Academy Awards honor the best dramatic actors. Comedians do not just want to be presenters. They want their hard worked acknowledged and appreciated too.
To recap; why do comedians attempt serious roles? It varies from comedian to comedian obviously, but the primary reasons are: It is the twilight of their career and they want to reinvent their image and be taken seriously. They are at a crossroad in their life/career and want to show their talent/range. They have become bored with comedy or too big for their own good. Or they just want to try something new and different.
Comedy is ever evolving. What is funny now was not always funny. What is funny now will probably not be funny in the future. Comedians are just like comedy. They grow and change and evolve. If they don’t, they risk being forgotten. And nobody wants that. There is a little narcissist in all of us.