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Comedy in RP: How???

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Hmm, this thread has a lot of good advice and I'm not sure I can give any that's better. I can tell you my experiences and what I've learned. I can think of two noteworthy examples where I made comedic characters. Both were in tabletop RPGs but I consider one a failure and the other a success.


The first one was the failure. I believe it was the second or third character I'd ever created when I was first learning how to play Pathfinder. Not only did I not have a lot of experience with these games, as previous attempts had been one shots or short lived,  but I knew nothing about the setting. My DM said we're playing this adventure path, my friends brought forth their ideas, and I, not really knowing how to research the game, just made something up. For some reason I thought it would be funny to play a catfolk druid with a big cat animal companion. Then I got it into my head that because the character was already a joke that I was just going to be silly and play a hyperactive cat who did typical, cliche things like getting distracted by shiny objects and chasing lights. It was a hit with my friends. They laughed at my antics, praised me for being so in character, and my DM even helped with the act by sending me Skype messages like "This box he's about to open has a shiny amulet inside. You can grab it the second he opens it." So why was it a failure? Well, most Pathfinder Adventure paths start with some generic adventure hooks and then progress into an overarching story. It's easy to plaything at the start but the closer we got to the actual story the more I realized there was nothing to my character. She had no goals, I had no development planned for her, and her only motivation was "adventuring is fun lol". Luckily the game fell apart before I was forced to deal with the mess I had created.


The success came when my DM wanted to try this hybrid of Pathfinder and D&D 5e. Someone had taken a Pathfinder adventure path and converted it to the D&D 5th edition system. I had desperately wanted to play a Wild Magic Sorcerer and I saw my opportunity to play a contrast to the AP as this was the one where you discover advanced (alien) technology. Already I've set myself up for comedy. Wild Magic means random things can happen when I do certain types of magic. One roll can turn me into a potted plant, one can cast Fly on a random target, some just add damage of a random type, but most of the time nothing extra actually happens. I'm also playing a Gnome from the Feywild First World which basically means I'm the embodiment of chaotic and unexplained magic and thus the opposite of all this science and technology that's going to be thrown at us. The character is not made purely for comedy the character is comedic because of situations she's placed in. She had goals and motivations in that she was fascinated by all the technology and wanted to study it. She didn't understand how it wasn't magic and she needed to know how it worked and where it came from! I still took every chance I saw to deliver funny dialogue when it felt natural or fitting and brought in extra laughs when I was actually brave enough to do my best impression of one of my favorite WoW dragons gnomes.


So basically don't just make a character to be a joke. The funniest jokes are the ones that come naturally. Rather than having your character forced to crack jokes you might have more success crafting situations where the humor can just come out. That said I'm not by any means saying not to crack jokes as that seems to be what you're going for. Make all the bad puns you want but be careful about forcing them into someone's serious scene.

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19 hours ago, Verad said:

"Verad reaches into the space around his belt, rummaging around a disturbingly roomy set of pouches. He produces what is obviously a rock that has been painted gold. Some of the paint has chipped off."


Some players do not like this, even in mild form, because I am telling them what their character thinks. I think these are very necessary to help highlight that the entire situation is absurd. If Verad rummages around a "roomy set of pouches," it's just an action. If it's "disturbingly roomy" it becomes weird.


I think there's nothing wrong with or example there, for the very reasons you state - the more descriptive style adds flavor, makes the emote more interesting. The scene is clearly supposed to be a little weird and absurd, and it's hard to convey that if you use only the most bland descriptions. In the end, it's still up to the player to determine how their character feels and reacts. There is a certain amount of cooperation required for RP, and by using words like 'disturbingly' and 'obvious' you're providing prompts, nothing more. Instead of feeling 'disturbed', a character could become curious what else is in the pouch.


Of course, it IS possible to go overboard with such descriptions, to the point where it effectively IS telling other players what their characters feel, even what they are doing. But as far as I'm concerned your example above is fine.

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Usually my comedy elements rely on how serious my character is. For that reason, it's heavily reliant upon situation, the people around her, and the ability to poke fun at her in my emotes. By suggesting myself as a separate narrator and making observations about Virara's actions in the emote, I try to draw out the absurdity in her behavior, or how unsuited it is for the current situation. I don't consider myself particularly funny, so I'm very happy when someone says they laughed, or they were entertained, or even just that they thought Virara was cute. A lot of my RP can be pretty grim and unpleasant, so I'm glad to have moments of levity people can enjoy.

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I'll be honest, I didn't read all of this thread, save for a few replies, so if I say anything that's been said already, apologies in advance.


Funny, to me, isn't just one thing. It's a mixture of many things. It takes the right situation, the right quirk, with a dash of spontaneity, and bam, you have a laugh! Even serious characters can be funny when presented in a certain way. One of my personal favorites is a character who is -too- serious.


For example: I have a character who is very serious, but he has prosthetic legs. In an event I attended, we were traversing snow and ice. Because he had prosthetic legs, my character would fall at the most inopportune time. Sometimes it was funny as hell, and sometimes it worked to his advantage. The point I'm trying to make is that you should know your character, in any situation, well enough that you can create humor where it's appropriate. The key is to create a character with quirks, not necessarily one that's -trying- to be funny. Quirks are to humor as spices are to a meal. There are quirks that are appropriate to a situation, which will create humor, just as there are spices appropriate to a recipe that will create a good meal.


That's about the best I can explain it.

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I like to add comedic elements into my roleplay at times, but what that consists of is entirely dependent on the character. Tohk is an utterly stoic and serious sort who has on rare occasions tried to tell jokes - they've always fallen flat because she has no idea of what actually constitutes a good one and lacks all the elements one needs to be good at telling them. Which can be funny, but I work it in through different ways. Little touches that come across ridiculous for her character, like the tendency for her to zone out when she's thinking deeply and begin to cross her eyes, or that she phrases things so poorly that they come across as double entendre that she's utterly clueless about. I don't try and get cute with my descriptions of her actions, or bleed in fourth wall breaking things, as that seems to be more distracting or disruptive.


Like yourself, I've also played characters that joke a lot before. I won't call them comedic, because that seems to imply they aren't serious, when in actuality their tendency toward sarcasm and wordplay was a simply a part of their character, rather than the extent of it. As others said, forcing jokes simply because your character is that sort can end up with people finding them annoying, disruptive, or otherwise not the sort of character they have much interest in engaging with. My practice in those situations was to give them a voice that was more flamboyant, their actions more open and energetic, but still refraining from bleeding in elements that were intended for the player rather than the characters interacting. Be light and jovial, and if the situation allows for it then sure, throw out a joke.

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*lurks in*


I've looked through the thread, unfortunately I'm tired so apologies if this has already been said...


Comedy relies a lot on perspective, and the perspective that gets to enjoy the most amount of comedy is the perspective of viewers/observers. Take your favorite flavor of comedy movie: to the characters, they're in -fairly serious- situations, but to you in the audience, the chain of events is just hilarious. I firmly believe that it's not that different in roleplay -- target your comedy to the players involved, not the characters. Once you sort of accept that, you start getting to know your audience and from there you can start building a list of tropes (because tropes aren't inherently bad!) that you can a) pull off without wrecking them and b) your regular audience enjoys.


As an example, here are some comedic tropes that I think almost anyone can manage to look natural and I always enjoy:


Character A and Character B make a $10 bet about situation, situation happens, winning side pays up with no complaint/comment. (Think Steve handing the $20 to Fury in the first Avengers movie) 


Character A goes out of line-of-sight/offscreen, and then "WAAAAAH!" *CRASH* *BANG* *CRASH* *SMASH* *TIRES SCREECH* *CAT YOWLS* *DISTANT WAIL OF SIRENS* *FIVE SECONDS OF SILENCE* "... I'm okay!"


*sound of something breaking* "... Oops..."


"Don't do the thing"

*has already done the thing* "... Oops..."


*is touching things*

*isn't looking* "Don't touch anything."



"What did you do?"

"I was irritated."

"You do more damage out of simple irritation than most people do in a towering rage..."


Character A misunderstands/mishears Character B on something inane/unimportant.

"What is this?"

"... I thought you said you wanted a watermelon to soothe you?"

"I said 'I want a smoothie'..."


Characters who plaintively asks "Why me?" often.


*slyly* "Trust me."


*slyly* "Would I do that to you, old friend?"


Character who has shoulder-length or shorter hair is startled and their hair "poofs up like a startled cat's". Important note: Character does not need to be a cat/normally have cat-like traits/features, in fact this one actually works best when a feline link is not present.


Character gets saying/adage wrong. "Remember, we can find north because the bark always grows on the outside of the tree."


*five-second blank stare* "... Oh shit, I forgot." *hurries off*


Character makes their drink/food inedible to everyone but them.

"How do you take your coffee?"

"Oh, I'll do it." *pours in enough sugar that coffee is now crunchy*


Character is asked/forced to unload their pockets (random items, stolen goods, weapons, etc), and the pile just gets impossibly large for what they should be able to hold. Extra points for "Is that all?" *character sheepishly unloads a few more items/item that should NOT have been able to have been concealed on them/looks like they literally just pulled the last item out of their butt*


"Where have you been? I was knocking on your door for a half-hour!"

"I think you were knocking on the wrong door."

*five minutes later* "... I was knocking on the wrong door..."


Character A gives Character B an obviously sarcastic and just as obviously wrong answer to Character B's minor problem. Character B does it anyways, things go bad, Character B returns to Character A and exclaims "I trusted you!" 


Character A is passionate about a hobby, but completely blind to the fact that they are in fact very bad at said hobby. Surrounding characters don't have it in their heart to tell Character A how bad, and sometimes even terrifying, their completed projects are, and in fact may feel compelled to further encourage or praise their efforts.

"I made a butterfly cake for little Cynthia's birthday!" *presents cake that looks like a dismembered... member... laying between two orange-and-green-cheetah flip-flops. With sprinkles*

"... Oh... gee, Aunt Mary... this looks... just wonderful. It's too bad, though... you see, some of Cynthia's friends have Celiac's, so we had to get a gluten-free cake. Next year, though?"

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I love comedic relief in mine and other's rp. As intense as it can get, sometimes it's nice to release that pressure and be able to joke.

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Comedic relief in RP makes RP for me. It's just not enjoyable for me everything's super serious all the time. 


That said, the comedy does still need to stay lore friendly, but that's not hard to do. 


I actually had a supposedly "super serious" mission in my old FC where we were sneaking into the Castrum to rescue my character's siblings. One guy's solution to try and get over the wall was to grab his Miqo girlfriend's tail and swing her up over the wall. She splatted (but survived, albeit slightly injured). We died laughing over Discord. 

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Drej that's my kind of RP xD that sounds amazing haha

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Comedy = good RP. Do you know how many FC houses ive broken into to steal all their cookies!? It was on a dare but still!

Edited by Ashram Narse

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The mission Drej is talking about had so many funny RP moments.  A cliff face was literally their worst enemy and got the best of them more than any of the actual combat situations did.  Well... that and... smoke grenades... ah heh.


Ultimately it's all about knowing your audience and knowing comedic timing.  It's not a science or anything, but unless you're going for dark humor, you wouldn't crack a joke when someone is bleeding out or when someone's sibling is dying for example.


But when you're in the middle of a service and you accidentally put too much spice in someone's food?  More often than not if they're not a stick in the mud, they'll gladly play along.

Edited by Zeris

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On 3/28/2018 at 5:14 PM, Teadrinker said:

That being said it's entirely possible to make NPCs and things like this that are running jokes. A mission giver, a mentor with a bad attitude, and my personal favorite low hanging fruit: cultural differences! 


lol I do that a lot with behind the scenes/after dark stories of some of the Scions.. it makes people think of these paragons of virtue in  different light and I generally feel I can hear them laughing from the other side of the fourth wall.

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