Straight man

The straight man is a stock character in a comedy performance, especially a double act, sketch comedy, or farce. When a comedy partner behaves eccentrically, the straight man is expected to maintain composure. The ability to maintain a serious demeanor in the face of even the most preposterous comedy is crucial to a successful straight man. Whatever direct contribution to the comedy a straight man provides usually comes in the form of deadpan. A straight man with no direct comedic role has historically been known as a stooge. Typically he is expected to feed the funny man lines that he can respond to for laughs, while seeking no acclamation for himself.

In vaudeville, effective straight men were much less common than comedians. The straight man's name usually appeared first and he usually received 60% of the take. This helped take the sting out of not being the laugh-getter and helped ensure the straight man's loyalty to the team.[1] Abbott and Costello, one of America's most popular comedy duos of the 1940s and 50s in radio, film and television, began as nightclub performers when the straight-faced Bud Abbott contrasted against the bumbling Lou Costello; Abbott, unusually, allowed Costello a larger paycheck to keep him on the team.

The role is still found today in sitcoms. In the manzai comedy of Japan, the straight man is called tsukkomi.

Cliff Hall and Jack Pearl 1952
Photo of Cliff Hall (left) and Jack Pearl from the radio program The Baron and the Bee. Pearl played the Baron and Hall, his straight man, was the Bee.

See also


  1. ^ Nachman, Gerald (1998). Raised on Radio, p. 36. Pantheon Books, New York. ISBN 037540287X.
Alan Clayson

Alan Clayson (born 3 May 1951, Dover, Kent) is an English singer-songwriter, author and music journalist. He gained popularity in the late 1970s as leader of the band Clayson and the Argonauts. In addition to contributing to publications such as Record Collector, Mojo and Folk Roots, he subsequently established himself as a prolific writer of music biographies. Among his many books are Backbeat, which details the Beatles' early career in Germany, Ringo Starr: Straight Man or Joker?, and biographies of Jacques Brel, the Yardbirds, Serge Gainsbourg and Edgard Varèse.

Bear (gay culture)

In male gay culture, a bear is often a larger or obese hairier man who projects an image of rugged masculinity. Bears are one of many LGBT communities with events, codes, and a culture-specific identity. However, in San Francisco in the 1970s any hairy man of whatever shape was referred to as a 'bear' until the term was appropriated by larger men and other words had to be used to describe hairy other-shaped men such as otter (slim), cub (young bear on the way), or wolf (hairy, medium build). The word manatee describes a big, hairless man, i.e. a bear without hair.

The term bear was popularized by Richard Bulger, who, along with his then partner Chris Nelson (1960–2006) founded Bear Magazine in 1987. There is some contention surrounding whether Bulger originated the term and the subculture's conventions. George Mazzei wrote an article for The Advocate in 1979 called "Who's Who in the Zoo?", that characterized gay men as seven types of animals, including bears.

The bear concept can function as an identity or an affiliation, and there is ongoing debate in bear communities about what constitutes a bear. Some bears place importance on presenting a clear masculine image and may disdain or shun men who exhibit effeminacy, while others consider acceptance and inclusiveness of all behavioural types to be an important value of the community.The bear community consists primarily of gay or bisexual men. However, as LGBT culture and modern slang has taken on a wider appeal in modern society, it is possible to call a hairy and burly straight man a bear, although they would not be strictly part of the gay bear community. Increasingly, transgender men (trans men) and those who shun labels for gender and sexuality are also included within bear communities. However, heterosexual men who have bearish physical traits and are affirming of their gay friends and family (or their gay fans, in the case of a celebrity) may also be informally accorded "honorary" bear status. A smaller number of lesbians, particularly those portrayed as butch, also participate in bear culture, referring to themselves with the distinct label of ursula.

Bud Abbott

William Alexander "Bud" Abbott (October 2, 1897 – April 24, 1974) was an American actor, best known for his film comedy double act, as straight man to Lou Costello.

Born into a showbusiness family, Abbott worked in the box office of several theatres, before becoming a comedian/producer of burlesque shows on Broadway, where he allowed Costello to appear with him when his own partner was off ill. They formally teamed up in 1935. Their signature routine, "Who's on First?", was carried through to radio and then to their film debut One Night in the Tropics (1940) and Buck Privates (1941). The duo would go on to make 36 films. During World War II, they were among the most popular entertainers in the world, and sold $85 million in war bonds.

Abbott and Costello launched their own long-running radio show in 1942, and then a live TV show. But by 1955, they were felt to be over-exposed, their film contract was terminated, and the partnership split soon afterwards. Costello died in 1959, and Abbott’s attempts to work with new partners did not succeed. In his last years, he was troubled with serious tax problems and heavy drinking to stave off epileptic seizures.

Groucho Marx declared Abbott to be the best straight man in the comedy business.

Dan Rowan

Daniel Hale "Dan" Rowan (July 22, 1922 – September 22, 1987) was an American comedian. He was featured in the television show Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, wherein he played straight man to Dick Martin and won the 1969 Emmy for Outstanding Variety or Musical Series.

Double act

A double act, also known as a comedy duo, is a comic pairing in which humor is derived from the uneven relationship between two partners, usually of the same gender, age, ethnic origin and profession but drastically different in terms of personality or behavior. Often one of the members of the duo — the straight man, feed, dead wood, or stooge — is portrayed as reasonable and serious, while the other one — the funny man, banana man or comic — is portrayed as funny, less educated or less intelligent, silly, or unorthodox. If the audience identifies primarily with one character, the other will often be referred to as a comic foil. The term "feed" comes from the way a straight man sets up jokes and then "feeds" them to his partner.

Despite the names often given to the roles, the "straight man" need not be humorless and it is not always the comic who provides the act's humor. Sometimes it is the straight man who gets the laughs through his or her sarcastic reactions to the comic's antics, as was often the case with Stewart Lee's deadpan, reasoned reactions to Richard Herring's more ridiculous antics in their pairing. Where the "straight man" serves no specific comic purpose, but acts as a device to make the "comic" look good, he is known as a "stooge". This is sometimes considered a derogatory term, and began to fall out of use by the 1930s when The Three Stooges began identifying itself as all stooges. Most often, however, the humor in a double act comes from the way the two personalities play off each other, rather than from the individual players. In many successful acts the roles are interchangeable.


Fantasio is a fictional character from the Spirou et Fantasio comic strip. He was introduced in 1944 by Jijé, who was then drawing Spirou's adventures. Fantasio is Spirou's best friend and co-adventurer, a graphic reporter with an uncontrolled imagination and a mop of blond hair. In his early incarnation, he was considerably taller than Spirou, with a clown-like demeanour, and his hairstyle resembled that of Blondie character Dagwood Bumstead. In the Franquin era, he and Spirou became more alike. He has an evil megalomaniac cousin, Zantafio, who is his sworn enemy but bears a strong physical resemblance to him.

Fantasio also appeared in the Gaston comic strip, where he was the main character's superior, often seen trying to sign contracts with Monsieur De Mesmaeker. His job in this series could be described as an office manager. In opposition to his role in Spirou, in Gaston Fantasio was a serious character, playing straight man to Gaston's goofy antics, who thus becomes to Fantasio what Fantasio is to Spirou. However, Fantasio left that series when André Franquin left Spirou et Fantasio after the album Panade à Champignac (taking Gaston and the Marsupilami with him), being replaced in the role by Léon Prunelle.

Gracie Allen

Grace Ethel Cecile Rosalie Allen (July 26, 1895 – August 27, 1964) was an American vaudevillian and comedienne who became internationally famous as the zany partner and comic foil of husband George Burns, her straight man appearing with her on radio, television and film as the duo Burns and Allen.

For her contributions to the television industry, Gracie Allen was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6672 Hollywood Boulevard, while she and Burns were inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1988.

Co-star Bea Benaderet said of Allen in 1966: "She was probably one of the greatest actresses of our time."

Lou Costello

Louis Francis Cristillo, professionally known as Lou Costello (March 6, 1906 – March 3, 1959), was an American actor, best known for his film comedy double act with straight man Bud Abbott.

Costello had started as an athlete, before working in burlesque on Broadway, where he stood-in for Abbott’s partner who had failed to show up. They formally teamed up in 1935. Their signature routine, "Who's on First?", was carried through to radio and then to their film debut One Night in the Tropics (1940) and Buck Privates (1941). The duo would go on to make 36 films.

During World War II, they were among the most popular entertainers in the world, and sold $85 million in war bonds. A winter tour of army bases caused a recurrence of the rheumatic fever which Costello had contracted in childhood, and his health was badly affected from then on, worsened by the death of his infant son. They launched their own long-running radio show in 1942, and then a live TV show. But by 1955, they were felt to be overexposed, their film contract was terminated, and the partnership split soon afterwards.


Manzai (漫才) is a traditional style of stand-up comedy in Japanese culture.Manzai usually involves two performers (manzaishi)—a straight man (tsukkomi) and a funny man (boke)—trading jokes at great speed. Most of the jokes revolve around mutual misunderstandings, double-talk, puns and other verbal gags.

In recent times, manzai has often been associated with the Osaka region, and manzai comedians often speak in the Kansai dialect during their acts.

Yoshimoto Kogyo, a large entertainment conglomerate based in Osaka, introduced Osaka-style manzai to Tokyo audiences, and coined the term "漫才" (one of several ways of writing the word manzai in Japanese; see "etymology" below) in 1933. In 2015, Matayoshi Naoki's manzai novel, Hibana: Spark (火花) won the Akutagawa Prize. A mini-series adaptation was released on Netflix in 2016.

Porky Pig

Porky Pig is an animated cartoon character in the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons. He was the first character created by the studio to draw audiences based on his star power, and the animators created many critically acclaimed shorts featuring the character. Even after he was supplanted by later characters, Porky continued to be popular with moviegoers and, more importantly, the Warners directors, who recast him in numerous everyman and sidekick roles.

He is known for his signature line at the end of many shorts, "Th-th-th-that's all folks!" This slogan (without stuttering) had also been used by both Bosko and Buddy and even Beans at the end of Looney Tunes cartoons. In contrast, the Merrie Melodies series used the slogan: So Long, Folks! until the mid 1930s when it was replaced with the same one used on the Looney Tunes series (when Bugs Bunny was the closing character, he would break the pattern by simply saying, in his Brooklynese accent, "And Dat's De End!"). He is the oldest continuing Looney Tunes character.

Porky's most distinctive trait is a severe stutter, for which he sometimes compensates by replacing his words; for example, "What's going on?" might become "What's guh-guh-guh-guh—...what's happening?" Porky's age varied widely in the series; originally conceived as an innocent seven-year-old piglet (explicitly mentioned as such in Porky's Preview), Porky was more frequently cast as an adult, often being cast as the competent straight man in the series in later years. In the ending of many Looney Tunes cartoons, Porky Pig bursts through a bass drum head, and his attempt to close the show with "The End" becomes "Th-Th-The, Th-Th-The, Th-Th... That's all, folks!" Porky Pig would appear in 153 cartoons in the Golden age of American animation.

Roderick Paulate

Roderick Paulate (born April 4, 1963) is a Filipino actor, TV host, comedian and politician. Kuya Dick was previously hosted tv shows like Vilma On 7, Tonight With Dick & Carmi, Magandang Tanhgali Bayan & Singing Bee. Kuya Dick is also a comedian in a previously shows Abangan Ang Susunod Na Kabanata, Oki Doki Doc, Mana Mana, Ang Tanging Ina The Comedy Series & Tweets For My Sweets. Kuya Dick is also a dramatic actor in previous shows, Malayo Pa Ang Umaga, Makita Ka Lang Muli, Rosalinda, Munting Heredera & his current action drama series the long running FPJ's Ang Probinsyano which he plays a straight man Mayor Politician.


Straight may refer to:

Straight (poker), a type of poker hand

Straight, or straights, used to describe individuals with mainstream points of view and appearance

Straight, slang for heterosexual

Straight, an alternative name for the cross (boxing), a type of punch in boxing

Straight, the second autobiography by British artist Boy George

Straight, a member of the straight edge subculture

Straight, Oklahoma, an unincorporated community in Texas County, Oklahoma

Straight Records, a record label formed in 1969

Straight, Incorporated, a now-defunct U.S. drug rehabilitation program for adolescents

Straight whiskey, pure whiskey distilled at no higher than 80% alcohol content that has been aged at least two years

Straightedge, a drawing or cutting tool

Straight-acting or Straight-type, an LGBT person who does not exhibit the appearance or mannerisms of the gay stereotype

Straight (racing), a section of a race track

Straight (surname)

Straight (Tobias Regner album), the first album by German singer Tobias Regner

Straight (2007 film), a German film by Nicolas Flessa

Straight (2009 film), a Bollywood film starring Vinay Pathak

Straight man, a stock character

Straight line, having zero curvature; wikt:rectilinear

"Straight", a song by T-Pain on the 2017 Oblivion (T-Pain album)

Straight man cancer

Straight man cancer (Chinese: 直男癌; pinyin: zhí nán ái) is a Chinese neologism for a group of men who are stubbornly sexist. Coined by the users of Chinese social networks Douban and Weibo in mid-2014, it refers to a group that uses a variety of reasons and actions to belittle women's value, harm women's rights, and hinder the movement for gender equality. They are hostile to ethnic minorities, calling for the return of conservative values. In general, "straight male cancer" and "male chauvinism" in English are comparatively similar.The term originated from mainland China. It became popular in 2015 when scholar Zhou Guoping was accused of having the syndrome after a Weibo post.

The Great Gabbo

The Great Gabbo (1929) is an American Pre-Code early sound musical drama film directed by James Cruze, based on a story ("The Rival Dummy") by Ben Hecht and starring Erich von Stroheim and Betty Compson.As originally released by Sono Art-World Wide Pictures, the film featured sequences in Multicolor. The current prints, restored by the Library of Congress and released by Kino International on DVD, now exist only in black and white.

Footage from the film was used on Fractured Flickers in the segment "Hymie und Me" (Episode 14), in which the dummy is presented as a real living comedian with von Stroheim as his straight man.

The Tall Guy

The Tall Guy is a 1989 British romantic comedy and the feature film debut of screenwriter Richard Curtis and director Mel Smith. It was produced by London Weekend Television for theatrical release and stars Jeff Goldblum, Emma Thompson and Rowan Atkinson. Curtis's script draws from his experiences as straight man to long-time collaborator Rowan Atkinson.

Trade (gay slang)

Trade (also known as Chow) is a gay slang term originating from Polari, the coded language among English subcultures, and usually refers to the casual partner of a gay man or to the genre of such pairings. Men falling in the category of "trade" are not gay-identified. Historically the motivations may at times include a desire for emotional fulfillment and admiration, but the term often refers to a straight man who partners with a gay man for economic benefit, either through a direct cash payment or through other, more subtle means (gifts, tuition payments, etc.). Trade originally referred to casual sex partners, regardless of sexuality as many gay and bisexual men were closeted, but evolved to imply the gay partner is comparatively wealthy and the partner who is trade is economically deprived. Examples of this include wealthy Englishmen finding partners among deprived Cockneys in 1930s London; traveling men finding partners in places such as Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Bangkok, Thailand and locals picking up military personnel who are generally seen as being physically appealing and eager for extra income or benefits.More modern usage has centered on any casual sexual encounter between men, and as an adjective to refer to any male considered masculine and/or sexually appealing.Often, the terms trade and rough trade are treated as synonymous. Often the attraction for the gay male partner is finding a dangerous, even thuggish, partner who may turn violent. That is not to say that people necessarily desire to be physically hurt, but the danger of seeking a partner in a public park, restroom, or alleyway may be exciting. Another variation is in comparison to regular trade, rough trade is more likely to be working-class laborers with less education and more physical demands of their work, therefore with a body developed naturally rather than in a gym. They may have a less polished or cleancut style than an office worker or professional businessman.

Where There's a Will (1936 film)

Where There's a Will is a 1936 British comedy film directed by William Beaudine and starring Will Hay, Graham Moffatt and Norma Varden. It features an incompetent solicitor who unwittingly becomes party to a bank robbery.

The film marked the first appearance of Graham Moffatt in a Will Hay film. Moffatt acted as a straight man to Hay, along with Moore Marriott, beginning in the film Windbag the Sailor.

Zeppo Marx

Herbert Manfred "Zeppo" Marx (February 25, 1901 – November 30, 1979) was an American actor, comedian, theatrical agent, and engineer. He was the youngest of the five Marx Brothers. He appeared in the first five Marx Brothers feature films, from 1929 to 1933, but then left the act to start his second career as an engineer and theatrical agent.

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