Immune To Slapstick
When a character tends to avoid involvement with cartoon antics or injuries


(permanent link) added: 2011-12-11 19:42:07 sponsor: Psi001 (last reply: 2014-02-08 17:58:55)

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There are some characters who just won't be part of the gag. They won't indignify themselves with zany acting, they won't take a pratfall on that banana peel on the floor and generally avoid doing anything clownish or potentially humiliating.

Not all characters are comedic. The Stoic Anti-Hero certainly can't be seen indignifying himself in the wacky antics of the heroes, while that new more sinister Big Bad likely isn't going to fall victim to a comedic Humiliation Conga like the previous Harmless Villain did.

As such, whenever the scene gets a bit Denser and Wackier, such a character disappears, not to be seen until the mood gets a little darker.

Alternatively the character may still appear but generally doesn't involve himself in the antics of those around him. This is particularly prominant with another character type, usually The Fool or The Ace, who can be comical, however manage to always avoid the same slapstick pain and humiliation as almost everyone around them. Such an event is usually always Played for Laughs, and usually at the expense of those who aren't so immune.

Female characters were often prone to this, due to wariness to placing them in violent situations and still having the same comedic value, though as of recently, some works have become braver and shown Slapstick Knows no Gender.

Contrast The Comically Serious, a character that is normally dignified, but only to make their eventual fall to a gag more effective. Also compare Shoo Out the Clowns, when a comedic character disappears when the story gets more serious. See also Bulletproof Fashion Plate.

Examples

Anime & Manga

  • Robin in One Piece to some degree. Although she doesn't balk at partying and laughing with her crewmates, she's the only member of the Straw Hat crew that never gets Super-Deformed and is never targetted by a gag.
  • Meta Knight in Kirby of the Stars to an an extent. Though he does have moments as The Comically Serious he usually stays out of the light hearted scenes in Papupu Village, only appearing when required to battle a threat to the village.
  • Kai of the Beyblade anime series (being The Stoic Anti-Hero of the team) rarely took part in comedic moments, usually acting as a bemused audience or leaving to do his own thing. Rei/Ray, though more jovial, usually only had a handful of cartoony moments per series as well.
  • The super-serious Stoic Signum and the Wolf Man Zafira are among the few members of Lyrical Nanoha cast who rarely appear in comedic sequences and even when they do, it's usually in a Deadpan Snarker way.

Film

  • When Joe Besser joined The Three Stooges he refused to partake in the Comedic Sociopathy, but later relented.
  • Played with in The Great Race, The Great Leslie is a Bulletproof Fashion Plate- he manages to walk through a giant pie fight in a bakery in a white suit without getting anything on him until the very end when he gets hit with a white pie.

Literature

  • The Guild of Fools, Joculators, Clowns, Buffoons, Minstrels and Mime Artists in Ankh-Morpork specialises in physical comedy. pratfalls, tumbles, amusing escapades with custard pies, bucxkets of water and joke flowers that squirt liquid are their stock-in trade. But one Clown never, ever, lands in the middle of the pies or buckets or general pratfalling. In a funny sort of way, he is Ground Zero. But Ground Zero from the point of view of the nuke. Doctor Whiteface, the stern, austere and utterly joyless Head of the Guild, is above that sort of thing. He walks unscathed through the circus ring whilst physical humour happens to other people. He and his Clowns are to be found in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series of novels.

Video Games

Web Comics
  • El Goonish Shive NP (NewsPaper) edition's "Oblivious Hand-Waving" arc, in which Tedd buys a magic wand that randomly warps reality.
    • In one of the strips Susan is shown reading and totally unaffected by the weird goings-on (she was originally supposed to have turned part-armadillo) because of her serious nature.
    • In this strip Adrian Raven tries to resist the weirdness but fails: he ends up being turned into a woman.

Western Animation

  • A key criticism towards Lola Bunny in her debut in Space Jam, who despite being boosted a new leading character to the Looney Tunes franchise, played very little part in the cartoony antics of the original cast (to the point even some of the live action characters fall victim to squash and stretch slapstick more than she does). The one instance she is put at harm by one of the Monstars, it is Played for Drama and averted by Bugs performing a Heroic Sacrifice. The character was revised for The Looney Tunes Show, with the character having a more abrasive personality, albeit still mostly in a dialogue centric sense.
  • Scenes in The Dreamstone taking place in the Land Of Dreams give something of a slight Mood Whiplash against those in Viltheed, due to the far less prominent use of slapstick violence. The heroes may suffer the odd non deformed pratfall every now and then, albeit for every ten times the Urpneys get comically squashed, fried and beaten to a pulp.
  • In Thomas the Tank Engine (and The Railway Series novels they were based on), Older and Wiser engines such as Edward and Toby were initially depicted as far more experienced and competent than the other more arrogant or childish engines, rarely causing accidents or getting into standard unusual predicaments (Toby's first appearance even notes he hasn't had an accident in years). As the show became more Aesop-centric, the cast was rewritten to have more equal shortcomings, leading most of said engines to get into scrapes of their own.
    • Gordon boasted being this in "Off The Rails", having never had a true accident, but was only Tempting Fate.
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