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[[quoteright:325:[[WesternAnimation/SupermanTheAnimatedSeries http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/straightman01_6517.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:325:The Straight Man in his natural symbiotic relationship with the [[StraightManAndWiseGuy Wise Guy]].]]

->''"Well, the straight guy is never given enough credit... [Bud] Abbott gets no credit for framing a gag, for the architecture, for the support, for the drive. He does everything except the punchline; he's amazing."''
-->-- '''Creator/MelBrooks'''

Somebody has to set up the joke so the funny guy can deliver the {{punchline}}. That's the Straight Man. He rarely gets the funny lines, but has to have impeccable timing and delivery so that the comic (the other half of a comedy duo) can hit it out of the park. [[Creator/AbbottAndCostello Bud Abbott]] (widely considered the greatest Straight Man of all time) had to say, "[[WhosOnFirst Who's on First]]," with just the right degree of earnestness and irritation so that [[Creator/AbbottAndCostello Lou Costello]] could get big laughs saying "Whaddya askin' me for?"

The best Straight Men are so good they can sometimes get laughs just by delivering a straight line so well the audience knows what's coming. (This is essentially the basis of Creator/BobNewhart's "telephone" routines: he was playing the Straight Man to ''[[TheGhost nothing]]''.) Other straight men in comedy duos have included Creator/GeorgeBurns (with Gracie Allen), Creator/DeanMartin (with Creator/JerryLewis), and Dan Rowan (with Dick Martin of ''[[Series/RowanAndMartinsLaughIn Laugh-In]]'').

In [[{{Dramedy}} less-comedic works]], the Straight Man is a {{Foil}} for the BunnyEarsLawyer, MagnificentBastard or LoveableRogue.

If the Straight Man is the lead in an ensemble or a show with LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters, this can lead to them being overshadowed by the rest of the cast because they spend their time and effort setting up the rest of the cast instead of themselves (see also StandardizedLeader).

The term can apply to women, but "comedic foil" is a more popular unisex term. In fact women in comic pairings have frequently played this role over the last few decades usually with WomenAreWiser coming into play.

In TV comedy, a Straight Man is frequently one half of an OddCouple. In a ComicTrio, they usually play the "helpless observer" role. If multiple characters take turns playing Straight Man, they have a game of SanityBall.

Not to be confused with:
* OnlySaneMan: The person in the cast who is sensible while everyone else is acting crazy. This ''may'' overlap with Straight Man, and it's pretty rare to have one of each, but they are ''not'' automatically the same character. (What's required of a Straight Man is not necessarily being "serious," but presenting the setup of the gags so someone else can give the punch line.)
* TheComicallySerious: This character's serious reaction is what gets the laugh; the Straight Man would be the one who sets up their reaction to be funny. It's possible for this to overlap if the Straight Man delivers their lines so well that they're funny even before the actual punch line; again Creator/BobNewhart is a great example of that.
* DeadpanSnarker: Delivers laugh lines in a monotone sarcastic voice. Again, it may overlap, but it's just as common for someone else to be the Straight Man while the Deadpan Snarker gives the punch lines.

Compare and contrast:
* BokeAndTsukkomiRoutine, where the "Straight Man" takes the ''tsukkomi'' role but, rather than setting up jokes as such, spends most of his time trying to correct the ''boke'''s [[ComicallyMissingThePoint comical misconceptions]] (until he eventually gives up and {{Dope Slap}}s him).
* HamAndDeadpanDuo, where ThoseTwoGuys are a wacky overactor and a guy who speaks in a dull monotone.

[[JustForFun/IThoughtItMeant A Straight Man need not necessarily be heterosexual]] nor even male, as many examples on this page show.

!!Example subpages:

* StraightMan/AnimeAndManga
* [[StraightMan/LiveActionFilms Films Live-Action]]
* StraightMan/LiveActionTV
* StraightMan/WebComics
* StraightMan/WesternAnimation

!!Other examples:

* Initially, Creator/GeorgeBurns had his wife Gracie Allen in the Straight Man role in their comedy act... until he realized most of the laughter was at her set-up lines and not the actual jokes. He switched roles with her and spent the next several decades as one of the classic straight men.
* Carl Reiner to Creator/MelBrooks' 2000-years-old man is another classic of the trope.
* Music/DeanMartin to Creator/JerryLewis.
* Rowan to Martin in ''Series/RowanAndMartinsLaughIn''.
* Dick Smothers to Tom Smothers.
* Opera singer Marilyn Mulvay was the straight woman for Creator/VictorBorge.
* The infamous [[spoiler:staged]] heckler in [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOlqbo0zZdI Brendon Burns's comedy sketches]] serves this role; she argues with him about racism with a completely serious attitude, while Burns flings her arguments back at her with humor.
* Creator/AbbottAndCostello: Bud Abbott was so important to the team that Lou Costello in the beginning insisted on him on getting 60% of their collected pay.
--> '''Lou Costello''': Comics are a dime a dozen. Good straight men are hard to find.
** Costello had also been in the business a long time, and had seen plenty of good comedy acts get broken up because the funny guy convinced himself that he was the star, and could do it with anyone. Only to find out the hard way that good straight men are very hard to find, and crucial to the routine because you need the straight man to set the joke up, and then react (or not react) to it. Bottom line, Bud Abbott is universally regarded as one of the greatest straight men in the history of show business.
* BobNewhart master the straight man. He played it to nothing. (His famous bits are being a straight man on the telephone without knowing what the other line is saying.)

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''Franchise/{{Batman}}''
** This point is brought up in the comics on occasion; one of the main reasons that SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker has given for not [[WhyDontYouJustShootHim simply killing]] Batman is that the Joker sees Batman as his unwilling straight man.
** ComicBook/LexLuthor is also the straight man when the [[VillainTeamUp villains team up.]]
* Tom from the Roger Mellie strips in ''ComicBook/{{Viz}}''. Sometimes he's Roger's agent and at other times he's Roger's producer, but he's always Roger's straight man. One strip featured a sign on his desk that had "straight man" as his job title.

[[folder:Comic Strips]]
* ''ComicStrip/FoxTrot'' zig-zags this. In the early years of the strip, Roger and Andy were both rather straight, with Andy occasionally being the funny one. However, someone slipped an IdiotBall into Roger Fox's shorts and he never removed it, so Andy was pretty much the straight one throughout most of the comic's run, although there have been notable instances where ''Roger'' was the straight one.
* ''ComicStrip/CalvinAndHobbes'': Hobbes also acts like this to Calvin; although there are times where Calvin can identify a little bit of quirkiness from Hobbes.
* ''ComicStrip/{{Peanuts}}'': In the stories focusing on Sally, Charlie Brown stands back and gets to comfortably be the DeadpanSnarker to his sister's silliness.
* ''ComicStrip/{{Garfield}}'': In the early days, Jon was the straight man to Garfield. Most of the humor in the early strips derived from Jon lamenting his status as cat owner whenever Garfield's catlike curiosity led him to do idiotic things. But as [[CharacterizationMarchesOn characterization marched on]], Jon turned into a socially awkward and weird ManChild, while Garfield turned into a lazy DeadpanSnarker, whose job it was to comment on Jon's strange behavior.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In the Homestuck fan adventure ''Webcomic/AlabasterTheDoomedSession'', there are two straight women: Via and Crossover, which both spend their time kicking the horrible male lead's ass and enduring the madness and mistakes of the entire cast.
* ''FanFic/QueenOfAllOni'': Agent Wisker often serves as one for the heroes. Meanwhile, on the villainous side of things, [[EnigmaticMinion Blankman]] often serves as this to the more quirky members of the Shadow Hand.
* ''WebVideo/DragonballZAbridged'': Most of the main villains play straight man to their henchmen (particularly Vegeta to Nappa) as well as to Goku. In addition, Kami is the straight man to Mr. Popo, Nail is the straight man to Super Kami Guru and Krillin, Piccolo is the straight man to Nail, Gohan is a straight man to everyone, and Tien Shinhan seems to be unaware that he's in a parody and plays just about everything straight.
* Jason often does this in ''Sailor Moon: Legends of Lightstorm''. All too often, he doesn't respond to the Scouts' antics except to give them a look that makes them realize the ridiculousness of their actions. And most of the time he doesn't even change his expression.
* Hovat in ''FanFic/WereJerrySpringerNotCasablanca'' is a female example of this, and so is Gamora to a lesser extent

* On the ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'', Rincewind and Sam Vimes seem to play the straight man [[OnlySaneMan for the entire world]].
* The trope is lampshaded and identified by name in ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'' novel ''Literature/BloodRites'' when Harry observes that one of the incidental characters is a born Straight Man and could provide some enterprising wise guy with perfect straight lines for life.
* ''Literature/TheHungerGames'': Katniss Everdeen.
* The titular character of ''Literature/AlicesAdventuresInWonderland'' plays this role to the wacky denizens of Wonderland. Whether she's also the OnlySaneMan is debatable: [[spoiler:[[AllJustADream the entire story takes place in her subconsciousness]]]].

[[folder:Pro Wrestling]]
* Wrestling/GorillaMonsoon played this to Wrestling/BobbyHeenan, producing many classic moments. As did Wrestling/TonySchiavone in Wrestling/{{WCW}}, though those moments were less classic.
* Despite it producing being his silliest gimmick(Up to that point), [[MaskedLuchador American Dragon as a literal American Dragon]], he still ended up being the straight one compared to Wrestling/{{C|hristopherDaniels}}urryman during their run as [[Wrestling/NewJapanProWrestling IWGP]] Junior Heavyweight TagTeam Champions. Similarly Wrestling/BryanDanielson tried to go along with whatever [[Wrestling/LondonAndKendrick Paul London]] came up with in Wrestling/ProWrestlingGuerilla, but Paul was just so left field Danielson would often have to slow him down just to make sense of him(usually resulting in something even weirder).
* When Curt Hawkins and Wrestling/ZackRyder teamed together, they were semi-regulars on Wrestling/JohnMorrison and [[Wrestling/TheMiz The Miz's]] online show ''The Dirt Sheet''. Hawkins would play the Straight Man to Ryder who was essentially using the "tool" gimmick that he would adopt on Wrestling/{{WWE}}[[Wrestling/{{ECW}} CW]].
* Wrestling/VladimirKozlov acted as one to Wrestling/SantinoMarella as he softened from guy who likes seeing him in pain to guy who genuinely likes him.

[[folder:Puppet Shows]]
* PPDA, the puppet for Patrick Poivre D'Arvor, acts as the straight man for absolutely everybody else in ''Series/LesGuignolsDeLInfo''.
* Kermit the Frog from ''Franchise/TheMuppets'' is the famous Straight Man to everyone else in the cast. You have to feel sorry for what he has to put up with sometimes, especially from [[{{Tsundere}} Miss Piggy]], [[SoUnfunnyItsFunny Fozzie]], [[AllDrummersAreAnimals Animal]]... The guy doesn't really get a break. Also, Fozzie plays the straight man to Statler and Waldorf whenever he does an act, though this isn't intentional on his part.
* One of the all-time great straight men is Bert, the Straight Man to Ernie on ''Series/SesameStreet'' (though he did deliver the punchline occasionally, usually in his AsideGlance at the end of the sketch).
* Creator/JeffDunham to his puppets. Given that he is voicing the puppets, it is regularly {{lampshaded}} that he is being the straight man ''[[TalkingToHimself to himself]]''.

* Radio/BobAndRay were an exception to this, as each man could ''simultaneously'' be the straight man and the goof, all in the same routine.
* Bud Abbott from ''Creator/AbbottAndCostello'', most famously in the "WhosOnFirst" routine.
** Compare [[http://www.newsfromme.com/2015/01/18/bud-n-lou/ this rare recording]] in which Abbott was out sick so Costello performed the routine with Sidney Fields. It's quickly obvious, as Creator/MarkEvanier observes, that Abbott contributed a lot more to the comedy than simply setting up his partner to be funny.
* In ''Radio/CabinPressure'', ''[[InsistentTerminology Captain]]'' [[Creator/BenedictCumberbatch Martin Crieff]] is usually this to his co-pilot [[Creator/RogerAllam Douglas]].
* Neddie Seagoon, played by Harry Secombe, was pretty much the Straight Man to the entire cast of ''Radio/TheGoonShow'' -- when he wasn't joining in the general surreal mess and leaving the announcer of the day (especially if it was Wallace Greenslade) as the Straight Man instead.
* ''Radio/HamishAndAndy'' has Andy
* The title character of ''Radio/TheJackBennyProgram'' typically played the straight man to everyone else in the cast. As Benny said, "I don't care who gets the laughs on my show, as long as the show is funny."
* Dougal (Graeme Garden) in ''Radio/HamishAndDougal'' ... usually. He's certainly more likely to be holding the SanityBall than anyone else, with the possible exception of [[WomenAreWiser Mrs Naughtie]].

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Peter Puppy in ''VideoGame/EarthwormJim'', who also qualifies as a DeadpanSnarker at times and is usually more serious and sensitive than Jim.
* Sam from ''VideoGame/SamAndMaxFreelancePolice''. This becomes a plot point in one episode where a villain specifically wants a straight man to help out with his plan, and Sam is the perfect kind of [[LeaningOnTheFourthWall easy-to-manipulate character who just does what he's told]].
* A significant percentage of Merrill's jokes in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeII'' come from her interpreting Silly!Hawke's sarcastic remarks literally.
* From ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'', we have Wade & Herren. As confirmed by the developers, Herren is the straight man while Wade is the funny man.
* [[DiscussedTrope Discussed]] and called by name in ''VideoGame/TalesOfVesperia'' during a skit, when Rita comments that the titular guild has Karol as the [[PluckyComicRelief comic relief]], Judith as the [[DesignatedLoveInterest love interest]], and Yuri as the Straight Man. She also calls Estelle the [[TheDitz Space Cadet]], prompting Estelle to ask if that makes Rita the straight woman. Rita flatly says she's "not a member of [their] crazy comedy act".

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorney''
** Phoenix Wright, who appears to act as the straight man for ''everyone''. He {{Lampshade}}s this pretty frequently.
** And in the fourth game, Apollo takes on this role, even playing the straight man to Phoenix.
** And Edgeworth in [[spoiler:case 5 of ''Trials and Tribulations'' and]] ''Investigations''. So basically the protagonist is always the world's straight man.

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* In the original ''Machinima/RedVsBlue'' series, this role generally fell to Church, Grif, Simmons and Tex (although Tucker and Sarge had their moments too). After the Blood Gulch Chronicles, while the old characters are unchanged, Agent Washington, the new guy, fits the bill much more so until [[spoiler: he starts working for the Chairman and with Maine again, and then once again after his HeelFaceTurn.]]
-->'''Wash:''' You are really an odd group of people.
* Paul from ''WebAnimation/LlamasWithHats'', to Carl's {{Comedic Sociopath|y}}.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In ''WebVideo/KateModern'' season 1, Tariq is often this to Gavin.
* In the ''Literature/WhateleyUniverse'', Fey and Tennyo play this role to their roommates, [[GenkiGirl Chaka]] and [[{{Cloudcuckoolander}} Generator]] respectively. Also, Greasy is the Straight Man and ButtMonkey for Peeper.
* Daniel from ''WebVideo/AgentsOfCracked'' to Swaim. He himself is occasionally the straight man to other cast members.
* [[Creator/WingerDingerProductions Hellsing920]] plays this role in his ''WebVideo/ReactionAndReview'' series: he creates the set-up for each film, then reacts to whatever oddities he's exposed to.
* LetsPlay/LewisBrindley often ends up playing this role when doing a playthrough with LetsPlay/SimonLane, setting him up for jokes either intentionally or by accident.
* ''WebVideo/SomeOrdinaryGamers'' stars Mutahar Anas, who more or less is an exemplified version of this trope playing weird video games, reading {{Creepypasta}} and exploring the deep web.
* ''WebAnimation/DarkMatter2525'': Jeffrey's role in most videos.