"Even funnier than the man who has been made ridiculous, however, is the man who, having had something funny happen to him, refuses to admit that anything out of the way has happened, and attempts to maintain his dignity."
Raven from Gravion, though this is a result of literally Becoming the Mask. Ayaka, the current "Raven" is a woman and far more emotional than her unfunny alterego.
Bleach's Byakuya Kuchiki in the omakes. He makes a joke. Once. It makes Renji Freak Out. He tries to do a comedy routine on stage. The audience was disturbed. Also note his obsession with Seaweed Ambassador. Finally, he sure loves his bunny drawings... which look exactly like Rukia's.
Jin in Samurai Champloo. At first glance, he comes off as a stoic, cool, smooth, handsome badass, but then the series proceeds to place him in some of the most comedic of situations alongside his companions. This includes a torture montage, working at an eel stand, getting a sore back after a night with unattractive courtesans, having to pretend to be a tour guide to win back his pawned swords, and dressing up as a female prostitute.
It's the fact that he's always so damn serious that gives him the Crowning Moment of Funny for the entire flippin' show. He's kneeling on a rock in the middle of a river while Mugen and Fuu are over on the shore. With no warning he suddenly dives in, swims and flails around like an utter madman, RUNS up to them in double-time animation (freaking them out in the process) and collapses in a prone-kneeling position before them, panting heavily... And holding a pouch full of (unknowingly, forged) gold coins. MUST be seen to be believed.
Gendo can also stare depressingly at Eva-01... while in an orange raincoat.
There's also something funny about Fuyutsuki facepalming and muttering "Those kids are embarrassing us again..." when Shinji and Asuka are bickering at the end of Episode 9.
In the dub he says "Those darn kids are embarrassing us again". There's something very comical about that, as the wizened old Vice-Commander can't even say "damn". It comes out sounding like a line from a sitcom.
Rei Ayanami, several times, specially whenever she interacts with Shinji and/or Asuka.
Switzerland from Axis Powers Hetalia is generally a serious, stern character, and occasionally throws out gems like this in his typically serious, stern manner:
Christmas is about family and loving people. [Pause.] Now get bent.
Japan has his moments as well, especially during Germany's training sessions on how to deal with being asked to react if England attacks, or what to do if the enemy asks him to surrender. He gives his answers in complete seriousness:
You should imitate William the First's loud voice!
Yes sir! I respond Japanese way! Be unclear! Say one thing, but mean something else completery opposite! Lie to them!
Sailor Moon: Mamoru Chiba/Tuxedo Mask is a pretty serious guy, but can sometimes lapse into this. Particularly when his child-like girlfriend Usagi/Moon (or any of the Sailor Senshi) say or do something that is so over-the-top all he can do is stare at them with a look that says "Moving right along..." Haruka/Uranus and Michiru/Neptune also slip once or twice into this.
Kyon, who is also the Deadpan Snarker; his creativity and sense of wonder is likely just repressed, though. His aloofness doesn't prevent him from getting stuck in alternate worlds with a MagicalShe Is Not My Girlfriend, or from finding himself smack-dab in the middle of mysterious murder cases.
Yuki Nagato is another example, reacting with robotic coldness to all the wacky hijinks created by Haruhi and Mikuru. Yuki herself is not above a friendly prank or two. Even if she doesn't show external signs of enjoying it...
Kyon's genderbent counterpart, Kyonko, is even better at this than the original.
Juubei Kakei in Get Backers (at least as an adult). Toss in blindness, unfamiliarity with the modern world, and copious amounts of Ho Yay. And for extra hilarity, they told him he wasn't funny. He was devastated.
Yuki can sometimes fall into this, especially after he starts trying to head the Student Council.
Code Geass: Part of the appeal of Lady of War Cornelia li Brittania is the potential for comic seriousness in just about any comedic situation she could be put into. Fanartists have caught onto this, and she's frequently shown looking flustered in comparison to the other characters. Canon toys a bit with this, considering the reaction she had to Clovis's raunchy swimsuits. And Cornelia was naked or at least topless when she commented on how Euphie shouldn't wear any of them. She was concerned about wearing one herself, and it was quite amusing to hear Euphie forcibly putting one on her.
Lelouch has his moments too. The Dark Messiah is capable of Screaming Like A Girl when a cat steals his mask, before running after the cat proclaiming "I shall not be defeated by a feline!" as passionately and seriously as he often declares "I will obliterate Britannia!" As with Cornelia, the sound dramas have fun with this. Suzaku in particular enjoys teasing Lelouch in order to get him flustered. Lelouch goes from panicking about the potential downfall of the Black Knights to blushing because Suzaku ate a piece of rice off Lelouch's face within the space of a minute.
Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha: Chrono's expression of cold professionalism remains the same even when he's wearing a bandage tied as a ribbon, combing down a coworker's Idiot Hair, or lightening up the atmosphere with a joke.
Re-L in Ergo Proxy gets this a couple of times, due to her being a Very Serious Intelligence Operative...who ended up Walking the Earth with Vincent, who is effectively The Fool with superpowers.
Zoro. He plays both 'badass' and 'buffoon' very well, but what makes it funny is that he's so serious the whole time.
A filler episode set soon after Enies Lobby uses this as its entire premise (the title, "Zoro's Slapstick Housework Help", should tell you everything you need to know)
He borders on being a Comedic Sociopath. He's a cold-blooded killer, but when he angrily shouts at and threatens someone for giving him directions when he gets lost on a straight, narrow cliff, you know you're supposed to laugh at him.
Zoro and Usopp are cuffed together while facing two opponents. With a totally serious face throughout. Zoro still is completely serious even as he executes his (innovative but completely ridiculous) plan. See it to believe it.
Zoro: I have a plan. We play rock-paper-scissors. The loser cuts off his hand.
Usopp: How can you say such a scary thing with a straight face!
Zoro: I'm not finished. Then he goes and gets Chopper to sew it back on.
Usopp: We're not rag dolls!!
Zoro: I have another idea...
Usopp: I don't wanna hear it!!!
Nico Robin is another example, especially given she's the only crew member who never adopts crazy facial expressions when shocked or angry (though that's been eroding since the Enies Lobby arc, and she's actually had a genuinely shocked face in the Dressrosa arc). She once calmly remarked how she knew Zoro hadn't been eaten by a shark because the water hadn't turned red, much to her crewmates' shock. She's also an occasional Straight Man for the crew's antics.
And a less prominent character who is a notably perfect example: During the Enies Lobby showdown, Cipher Pol 9 agent Kaku takes this trope to hilarious lengths (all ye who have not watched his fight with Zoro, spoil at your own risk): not only does he turn into a ridiculous block-nosed giraffe-man, he gets defensive about it, and says things like "Witness the power of a giraffe!" all while keeping a perfectly straight face. Using attacks like "Giraffe Canon" and "Nose Gun" is several times funnier just because of how absurdly seriously Kaku takes himself. No wonder he came in 9th in the following popularity poll.
Though he's right about being dangerous.
Jinbei is starting to evolve into one by virtue of hanging out with Luffy and Hancock on Amazon Lily.
Trafalgar Law does not appear to be sure how to react to the Straw Hats' usual antics when he offers to ally with them in Punk Hazard, resulting in this trope.
Sasuke Uchiha and Neji Hyuuga work out like this, though moreso in the anime. Of course, when something funny actually happens to them, it's just that much better. Seeing Sasuke with those white circle eyes is good for a laugh.
Best example of this has to be Shippuden episode 181 (a filler) where Sasuke gets attacked by an ostrich.
One of the few fillers worth watching has Neji spazzing out when he eats curry. Were it anyone else making those expression, it wouldn't be as funny. This trope is probably why Episode 101 is so popular despite being filler.
Also, Shino. Is it really anyone wonder they dedicated an entire filler episode to getting drugging him to laugh? His return of him sulking because Naruto failed to recognize him right away. Also his reaction to his bugs being eaten by that anteater.
Itachi. His response to Naruto telling him about how inescapable, completely fatal the attack being used on them is, based on his own experience? "So, why are you still alive?"
Giovanni from the Pokémon anime. Which of course, only makes Meowth's progressively delusional Imagine Spots that much weirder.
And recently, the Team Rocket trio themselves in the "Best Wishes" arc. One episode had them break from their serious dispositions when their life forces were being drained by Litwick. They attempt to menace the twerps, but they are exhausted and gasping for air even while reciting their motto.
Lupin III has the very formal and traditional Goemon Ishikawa XIII, who is often used this way for the Bathos. In the crossover movie, Lupin III vs. Detective Conan, Goemon jumps from a plane and cuts through several floors of a building on his way to land in the vault. Once there, he says "Once again I have cut a worthless object" as usual, completely serious... and his legs are wobbling from the impact, seemingly unnoticed. He tries so very hard to be serious and dignified... but when he hangs out with Lupin...
Hayato Akaba of the Bando Spiders remains almost completely stone-faced while striking goofy rock-star poses for no apparent reason, and has a tendency to make convoluted music metaphors with the same completely serious expression.
Shun Kakei of the Kyoshin Poseidons always takes the antics of his wackier teammates in stride, whether it's the rivalry between Ohira and Onishi or whatever hijinks Mizumachi is up to.
Pani Poni Dash!: Rei Tachibana. Nothing makes her humorless nature more glaring than when her pissed-off face takes up two thirds of the screen while Himeko rises up on the remaining one-third and shoots off her motormouth while rocking side-to-side.
Tsurugi Inugami would count even more, with him being the serious, near-emotionless one in the same class as characters like Misao Nanjo and Behoimi (not to mention that said class is taught by Old Geezer).
Ichijou never once changes facial expressions (except to change to a more super-deformed version of the same stoic expression,) but is the Cloudcuckoolander supreme of the series.
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Jotaro Kujoh has a perfect poker face, as he demonstrates to good effect when gambling against D'Arby. The reason he's so stoic is that he thinks his emotions are easy to read, so he tries to hide them, but of course no one can tell what he's thinking anyway. Naturally, he's put into quite a few humorous situations thanks to his deadpan reactions to the bizarre things that happen in the series.
Stein from Soul Eater with his Running Gag of him not be able to slide in a office chair without falling.
Let me try that again.
While Stein does have his moments, Medusa plays a much straighter example. Everyone in the world of Soul Eater has a comedic gag going for them. Medusa's is interacting with these people while being the most serious person in the series. A key example is her meeting with Death and Spirit.
Cromartie High School uses this to great effect. No matter how strange the situation, the cast never loses their stoic expressions.
Most of Erza's funniest moments in Fairy Tail derive from her ability to be completely serious in absurd situations.
Most of the punchlines from Servant × Service's Megumi Chihaya come at her outwardly calmer moments... such as declaring dryly that she and Ichimiya are an Official Couple.
Attack on Titan has Commander Levi, who doesn't crack a smile ever. He's also the best at what he does (Killing Titans) despite possibly being the shortest male in the series. He's also deadly serious about cleaning, wears an apron and a dust mask and it just looks hilarious.
Batman often plays the unfunny role. Anything can be made funnier by adding Batman as the straight guy. A rare exception is found in the The Killing Joke, when The Joker tells him a joke that makes them both laugh. More typically: In "Hush", when Nightwing and Batman are in the Batmobile discussing Catwoman (well, Nightwing is discussing her... Batman is glaring off into the distance ignoring him):
Nightwing: If you don't want to talk with someone, why do you even have a passenger seat in the Batmobile? Batman: Balance. Nightwing: ...was that a joke? ... Of course not. — Hush
Anyone who hangs around The Joker for any length of time who is not named Harley Quinn and/or doesn't end up getting a whiff of laughing gas tends to become this. Not so much true in the Silver Age stories, in which the goons would often laugh along with their boss, but definitely so in most stories from the 1970s onward, and especially in stories from the '90s onward. There's Devil's Advocate, in which "Mister J" is tried in court for murder for the first time in his life and has his his lawyer sign all his legal briefs with a lavender crayon (which the lawyer gladly does). Especially funny in the "Death of Batman" story arc, in which the Joker shoots a Snuff Film that's supposed to end with Batman being gunned down in a '40s-era café. Not only does an entire movie studio treat the Clown Prince like just another prima-donna filmmaker, but two stone-faced film critics who look just like Siskel And Ebert stop by and give the Joker's film a bad review. He shoots them both dead.
Plastic Man. Hard as it may be to believe these days, in his Golden Age Jack Cole comics he was the straight man surrounded by lunatics. Back then Plastic Man was a former criminal and was guilty of some rather serious crimes.
Out of the lot of the villainousSecret Six, the role of comically serious goes to Bane. It says something when you try to act fatherly to a grown woman by treating her like a ten year old.
Previously, Cyclops would fulfill this role. As pointed out before by a few fans, personality wise, he's not unlike Batman, meaning that any situation from his perspective could become funnier, or more awesome. He once had a oneshot story a while back, that involved him fighting evil circus folk while stealing a man's bike and leaving an apologetic note afterwards. A lot of humour was derived from the situation he was in, his reaction, and the ending which turned a small number of bits into a Brick Joke. Sadly, The X-Men are being as serious as they can now, so no more comically serious adventures for Cyke.
Dream / Morpheus in The Sandman, either through being the straight man to the likes of Delirium or Immortal Immaturity. When his latest affair ends badly at the beginning of "Brief Lives", he starts brooding on the balcony like a teenager - and causes downpours throughout the Dreaming just to complete the pose.
Transformers: More than Meets the Eye takes great glee in turning Ultra Magnus into an Exaggerated version of this trope. Getting him to smile is a literal life-and-death matter in one story. (And said smile is the creepiest thing you ever saw.) In another he literally cannot say the word "fun". He doesn't know the word "relax", either. And it's milked for all it's worth as regards showing how much his anal nature differs from the rest of the crew and placing him in silly situations and/or paired with silly characters. Sometimes he even manages to serve as the Straight Man to other characters who are usually the Straight Men themselves.
Leslie Nielsen was a somewhat successful dramatic actor. When Zucker, Abrahams, and Zucker came along and had him act the exact same way in a crazy situation in their film Airplane!, it made him a comedy legend. The rest is history. Hence Leslie Nielsen Syndrome: it is difficult to impossible to watch older Leslie Nielsen films without stifling inappropriate giggles — including such classics as Forbidden Planet.
The entire movie is based on this trope. Only Johnny acts silly.
Stryker: Surely, you can't be serious.
Rumack: I am serious. And don't call me "Shirley".
Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Graham Chapman plays King Arthur completely straight through some of the most absurd moments in theatrical history, his stodginess in the face of carefree lunacy played for laughs.
Tim: Follow. But! Follow only if ye be men of valour! For the entrance to this cave is guarded by a creature so foul, so cruel, that no man yet has fought with it... and lived! BONES of full fifty men lie strewn about its lair! So! Brave knights! If you do doubt your courage or your strength, come no further, for death awaits you all with nasty, big, pointy teeth... [makes fangs with his fingers and holds them in front of his mouth]
Men In Black: Agent K. So much so that when they were filming the first movie, Tommy Lee Jones was worried he wouldn't be funny, and they had to keep reassuring him that Agent K would be funny in context. He was.
Tommy Lee Jones in just about any movie, where he approaches even the most absurd scenes completely serious and deadpan, such as in Man Of The House, where he plays a Texas Ranger tasked with guarding a squad of neurotic University of Texas cheerleaders who witnessed a murder.
Death in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey gets a creepy introduction when he arrives to take Bill and Ted to Hell. He promptly gets Melvined by them and spends the rest of the film desperately trying to regain his dignity, which is shattered over and over again the more time he spends with them. In the end he decides 'Screw It', and becomes their bass player.
"Don't overlook *my* butt, I work out all the time. And reaping burns a lot of calories."
Buster Keaton started his unfunny act young. Working with his father on the stage, he was continually told to "freeze the puss" because a puzzled or frowning face after a gag made the audience laugh harder. This later carried over to his film career - when he's on screen, his face is a worried blank, his body is ramrod straight but his legs do the talking. This gave rise to the Urban Legend that claimed that Keaton was actually contractually obligated to never smile (he wasn't).
A biography of him explained this trope in action. As a child performer he wore a suitcase handle on the back of his jacket, allowing the adults to literally pick him up and toss him around the stage. The act ended with him getting shoved through a bass drum. If he emerged from the drum smiling and waving at the audience (to assure them he was unharmed), people assumed he was being abused and that the smiling was just something he had been ordered to do. If he kept his face deadpan throughout, he brought the house down every time.
Harry Potter: Alan Rickman's subdued performance as Snape is sometimes this, especially in the later films (Cormack puking on his shoes comes to mind).
Rolling his eyes and pulling his sleeves back to push Ron and Harry's faces back into their work wouldn't have been nearly as funny if he'd had any change of attitude or expression.
There's this little gem from Order of the Phoenix, when Dolores Umbridge is conducting an inspection of the school:
Umbridge: You applied first for the Defense Against the Dark Arts post, is that correct?
Umbridge: But you were unsuccessful?
Snape: [irritated but still deadpan] Obviously.
The Devils Rejects - Oddly enough, Otis Driftwood is Comically Serious when he is in the company of Captain Spaulding and Baby Firefly.
Moe Howard from The Three Stooges is cast as the most "serious" Stooge and often berates the other two to stop screwing around, but he is no less likely to get a pie in the face or clonked with a shovel than anyone else in the cast. This is a natural extension of the much older role of the whiteface clown as a Straight Man to the more rambunctious auguste in professional clowning. Some people have trouble with smart clowns...
Ax of Animorphs is an alien who doesn't quite understand human humor, but his weird mannerisms among other things make him into a very funny character.
Marco was convinced that the Yeerks did have a sense of humor because nobody as comically serious as them could do it unintentionally. Such gems of humor from the Yeerks include making an entrance to their secret lair under a McDonald's and then having the password be "I'd like a Happy Meal with extra happy" and having the audio for the self-destruct system announce "Base will Self-Destruct in 15 minutes. Have a nice day."
Bertie: I suppose it bowled the poor blighter over absolutely?
Jeeves: Mr. Bickersteth appeared somewhat taken aback, sir.
Live Action TV
Various guests from Fawlty Towers including Mr. Hutchison from "The Hotel Inspectors", and the Abbots from "The Psychiatrist", and especially Dr Price from "The Kipper and the Corpse".
Dr Price: Look, I'm a doctor. I'm a doctor and I want my sausages!
Officer Crabtree from 'Allo 'Allo!. Arguably one of the most outrageous characters in the series, with the straightest face. Probably because he has no idea how horrendous his French is...
Arnold Rimmer in Red Dwarf: Takes everything seriously but gets everything wrong. The polar opposite of Lister who is usually making a joke at Rimmer's expense but generally quite smart at figuring things out, and The Cat who makes fun of Rimmer on every occasion possible but often gets stuff right because he goes with his gut reaction and doesn't overanalyse it.
Angel. The fact that he's periodically-evil while his companions are all Happy Meals with legs might have something to do with all the jokes at his expense, to keep him grounded.
Indeed, much of the humor on Angel's own show was derived from his being deadpan in comical or bizarre situations, or how absolutely seriously he took his role as Brooding Hero of the Night With a Dark Past, to the point where it became a bit absurd. Cases in point: his dancing (it's dreadful but thankfully imaginary), leaping heroically into the wrong convertible and thereby averting a car chase scene, the discovery that he enjoys Barry Manilow but cannot sing to save his unlife, and dressing up in a ridiculous tourist outfit in order to apparently annoy information out of a local mafia boss. All of these he treats with complete seriousness or hides to keep his brooding cred.
The best was when he was turned into a muppet in "Smile Time". For most of an episode he was a dour, brooding, serious fuzzy puppet while everyone else was intensely amused.
In episode five of season three, "Fredless," Cordelia and Wesley subject the Buffy/Angel relationship to something that goes beyond a send-up and into a blow-up, leading to this immortal line from Wesley: "Oh Buffy, I love you so much I almost forgot to BROOD!"
Earlier, in the season two episode "Guise Will Be Guise," Cordelia gave this impression of Angel: "Oh no, I can't do anything fun tonight. I have to count my past sins, then alphabetize them. Oh, by the way, I'm thinking of snapping on Friday."
Sam the Eagle from the The Muppet Show frequently commented on his own program in a condescending tone, usually tripping up over his own hypocrisy (he once followed up a complaint about how uncultured the show was with a comment that the guest of the week, ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev, was his "favorite opera singer") or not being aware how silly things actually were (his favorite skit on the show was the "classy" duets by Wayne and Wanda, which always ended in some slapstick disaster).
Sam(to the audience): I wish to announce I am officially disassociating myself from this whole weird,sick show. Thank you.
Spoofed in Monty Python's Flying Circus, where a man talking and acting in a blandly everyday manner causes convulsive laughter in everyone he walks past. And that's even an obscure reference. Does no one remember the Colonel? "Now I do my best to keep things moving along, but I'm not having things getting silly." He started as the straight man in his own sketch, and they kept using him to end a sketch for which they had not written a punch line.
Generally speaking, Graham Chapman has been described by other Pythons as hating the stereotype of the man who knows that he's funny, in comedy, which is why so many of the characters he played can definitively be described as The Comically Serious.
Same applies to Data's daughter Lal, who summed up the essence of this trope after noting that other children were laughing at her.
Lal: Then, without understanding humor, I have somehow mastered it.
Tuvok was often paired with goofy Alien Scrappy Neelix. Interestingly, in a flashback, Sulu commented that Tuvok was stuck up even for a Vulcan. (Sulu implicitly compares him to Spock.) Which leads to the hilarious image of him being Comically Serious in a group of Vulcans.
And Worf, above, is often shown as being more serious than most Klingons. (This may be a case of him trying too hard to follow an outsider's ideas of Klingon culture, as compared to those actually brought up in it; then again, he might just have a grim and serious temperament.) Michael Dorn has a charming smile, but the best you're likely to get out of Worf is a look of satisfaction.
It's lampshaded in "Redemption", when Worf tries to claim that Klingons do not laugh, and Guinan immediately calls him on it—they totally do; he doesn't. It's backed up later in the story when Worf goes to fight in a Klingon fleet. In between battles, the other Klingons join their enemies in a bar to boisterously drink together, but Worf has to be all but dragged into the fun, and is still not really enjoying himself.
Data discovers the concept of humor and attempts to learn to tell jokes and stand-up. The image of Comically Serious Data, on par with Worf, trying to tell jokes and failing miserably is — on paper - more hilarious than the jokes themselves could ever hope to be. Unfortunately, to say they misfired would be a dramatic understatement — the resulting episode, "The Outrageous Okona", is regarded as one of the worst in the entire Trek canon. He can hardly be blamed for getting it wrong considering the jokes being endorsed by Guinan and the greatest comedian of the 20th century. "Because you're a 'droid and I'm a 'noid."
At least once Data and Worf both pulled this off in the same scene. Data is about to leave the Enterprise and asks Worf to take care of his cat Spot:
Data: You must feed him and pet him. And you must tell him he is a good cat. And a pretty cat.
Worf:(holding the cat at arm's length with his usual scowl) I will feed it.
Agents Dulmer and Lucsly from "Trials and Tribble-ations." Especially their reactions to everyone making time-related jokes.
Teal'c on Stargate SG-1 was the team's Unfunny. He might have laughed only once in the show's 10-year run - at a Jaffa joke no one else on the team got. Once in a while he was a bit of a Deadpan Snarker, and he was frequently the victim of Metaphorgotten, but he was always a serious person. Made even more hilarious on a meta level by how downright jolly his actor Christopher Judge is in real life. At first his understanding of human humor is more limited, but he learns more as the series goes on, giving us such moments as early on when O'Neill is lying sick in bed:
Teal'c (deadpan): Undomesticated equines could not stop me.
The Jaffa race as a whole counts. The other Jaffa may smile more easily than Teal'c, but they're still deadly serious 90% of the time, and will climb up on their honor in an instant.
Dr. Wen from Scrubs. Carla as well: you can get plenty of laughs out of her and her storylines, but it's actually made a point of a few times in the show that she can't tell or do good jokes. (It doesn't stop her from trying, though.)
Derek Hale from Teen Wolf. His glaring or hostile reactions to other people's actions, especially Stiles', are often much funnier than the initial joke. And he's been nicknamed the sourwolf by Stiles because of this.
Cameron of The Sarah Connor Chronicles is a solid example of this, when she is put in absurd or socially delicate situations, and tends to react in an extremely straightforward and practical manner. John Henry and Catherine Weaver tend to be this, too. The odd thing here is how much quiet comedy the writers generate between two comically serious characters.
Chuck: NSA Agent John Casey is the most serious out of the 'Operation Bartowski' team, but he's often the bringer of the most laughs, usually because he's put into amusing circumstances.
NewsRadio: The whole reason Dave Foley was cast as Dave Nelson (a character created with him in mind) was the fact that Foley has a talent for getting laughs by subtly and seriously reacting to funny or crazy things, more so than the actors who are actually doing them, as creator Paul Simms discovered by watching him steal scenes opposite the Chicken Lady.
In the episode where they tested the concept of Latex Perfection, Adam got a lot of mileage out of acting zany while disguised as Jamie (though he was able to pull off serious too). On the other hand, Jamie had a hard time acting appropriately goofy while disguised as Adam.
True Blood: Eric Northman. A good example—though funnier in context, so spoilered punchline—is when he's speaking in Russian, and his whole speech is subtitled, but he spontaneously switches back to English to call someone a gold-digging whore!
Dr. K from Power Rangers RPM. For a character who is a complete Deadpan Snarker with No Social Skills, she provides almost as much humor as the designated Butt Monkey of the series. It mainly comes from the fact that she is often placed in socially awkward situations. (See "Ranger Yellow, Part 2", "Doctor K", and especially "In Or Out" for proof.)
The Big Bang Theory: Dr. Sheldon Cooper. In fact, it's pretty much his entire shtick (aside from neurosis, passive-aggressiveness and love of trains.)
Glee's Dalton Academy Warblers, individually or en masse, are this to a T.
Thad: You mock us, sir!
Hotch in Criminal Minds can be this very much sometimes, especially when put with Reid, though occasionally also with Morgan.
On the sitcom Dharma and Greg, Greg got laughs like this too. It seems to be a Thomas Gibson specialty.
Jon Stewart on The Daily Show is not generally this, but when paired with his correspondents for a bit, will oftentimes take on this role as the serious straight newsman/interviewer.
The humor of Loriot, probably Germany's most famous comedian, is always this, revolving around people in awkward situations who always keep appearances and manners, which only makes the situations more absurd and hilarious, and frankly, embarrassing. A great deal of his early humor is attributed to the fact that people in Germany in the 60s actually did behave a lot like that and he was merely pointing out the absurdity of trying to keep one's dignity by ignoring the embarrassment.
PR consultant and professional snoop Nick Hewer has shades of this in The Apprentice, which the editors occasionally play up - the man's so deadpan that the second he comes within five metres of a stuffed toy he becomes instantly funny. The real life equivalent of the Batman comedy mannequin. Following an appearance on a popular BBC panel show, however, it turned out that the Apprentice team had, if anything, been downplaying Nick's deadpan genius. And all he had to do was wear a jumper and make some faces...
Red Foreman embodies this trope in That '70s Show. While he does have a lighter side that pops up from time to time, 99% of the humor derived from his character comes from his stern personality clashing with the absolutely absurd plots going on around him.
He does have a dry and sardonic sense of humor that plays up now and then, such as when he remarked on Bob's less than stellar military courage:
Red: Imagine that, a Minuteman serving chicken!
In the classic TV Batman, Batman and Robin are the straight men to the lunacy of the villains.
Jack Soo as Nick Yemana, and later Steve Landesberg as Arthur Dietrich on Barney Miller.
Ichabod Crane in Sleepy Hollow maintains the poise and decorum of an 18th century British gentleman no matter what happens around him. He even has an elegant way to hide behind a wall during an explosion.
Beau Bridges as Carl Hickey, Earl's grumpy middle-aged father, in My Name Is Earl.
Steve Bender, one of the two German members of the 80's multi-national band Dschinghis Khan. Lampshaded in several YouTube comments which mention how utterly serious he is, when compared with his more cheerful bandmates.
Kane, who for years had been the most serious of performers, had a point for about two or three years where he could be relied on for some of the best comedy moments — because no matter how many times he did it, you didn't expect Kane to crack jokes, except deadpan.
So there's a backstage spot with Booker T, Goldust and Kane, with Kane ominously looming over Goldust who had just been doing a (bad) impression of him. Suddenly Bradshaw comes in and says he's going to party after his big victory just now by going to see some hot lesbian action, and asks who wants to come along. Kane is the only one who raises his hand. The inversion of OOC Is Serious Business only made his normally stoic persona all the better suited for the role.
Kane on an August 2012 edition of Raw was being forced to attend anger management classes: when asked to describe some of the issues that made him angry, Kane, in a completely deadpan voice, described his ridiculous backstory and the most ridiculous plotlines he's been in ("I had a girlfriend named Katie Vick. That didn't end well.") which made his segment utterly hysterical compared to the more obviously comic Daniel Bryan part of the sketch.
The fact that it was riffing on Dr. Evil's Parent-child counseling likely helped.
William Regal always did his best to maintain his dignity but would always get paired up with people like Tajiri, Eugene or Hornswoggle who would frustrate the hell out of him.
Steven Wright's on stage persona is a perfect example of this trope. The jokes themselves are mildly-amusing puns ("I poured spot remover on my dog, and now I can't find him."), but Wright's dead-pan delivery makes them even funnier.
Rowan Atkinson is well known for this when he isn't busy being comically way over the top instead. He seems to pull either one off with equal levels of comfort.
Reginald D. Hunter is a master of this as well.
Bob & Ray had a number of interview sketches that used this — with one (usually Bob) as himself, trying to make sense out of the other as the increasingly loopy subject.
Wiretap: Jonathan Goldstein as portrayed in most of the "conversations" on his radio show.
For all the potential darkness of the character, Leonardo de Montreal from Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine can be comedy gold because of his deeply serious approach to the goofiness he is likely to be exposed to, especially if Rinley or Chuubo is also present.
The Importance of Being Earnest is a Word of God. Oscar Wilde wrote acting instructions in the original text of the play, calling for the entire cast to perform as gravely as possible; he felt (perhaps rightly so) if they treated the subject matter too lightly the satire would be lost.
Sasha Nein from Psychonauts. He's more or less The Spock, but gets the most amusing punishments — such as having his brain removed, leaving him to babble about TVs and hackeysacks, or being squashed on the underside of a giant rubber stamper.
Valygar from Baldur's Gate II, especially when bantering with Jan Jansen, Minsc, Imoen or Haer'Dhalis (as the latter discovers, Valygar is surprisingly adept at puns). For that matter, almost any character becomes The Comically Serious when paired with Jan, especially Valygar and Keldorn. Or Minsc, even the PC.
Valygar gets bonus points for actually being able to shut down Jan. In one of their banters, Jan tries to strike up conversation by talking about his mother. Before he can get started on an anectdote, Valygar explains in horrifying detail about his mother and the horrible monster she was. For once, Jan drops the subject.
The spin-off City of Heroes comic revealed Statesman to be one of these. To the point where him making a remark about letting Manticore die gave the latter pause because he couldn't tell if Statesman was actually deadpanning a joke or not.
Yuri Hyuga from the Shadow Hearts series. Somehow he manages to remain Badass even while surrounded by a Large Ham pro wrestler, a ditzy fortune teller, an intelligent wolf and the princess of Russia. (It's mainly because he's pretty goofy himself.)
Sten in Dragon Age: Origins, especially if he's present during the scene where your team attempts to help break you out of prison, though unlike many examples of this trope, he does have a sense of humor and plays the trope up on purpose.
Oghren: My partner and I are, ah, performers...
Captain: You're performers, are you? What's your act?
Oghren: Our act? Oh... well, the big guy here sings and dances while I... er... juggle swords...
Cyan Garamonde from Final Fantasy VI. Much humor is drawn from his interactions with Gau the feral child, his reaction to the flirtatious remarks of a cabaret dancer, and his embarrassment when his companions discover his hobby of crafting beautiful silk flowers.
Prince Innes from Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones. He takes himself so damn seriously and yet he can barely have conversations with other people that don't end up with the other going "...huh?".
Unless it's L'Arachel, who unlocks Innes's inner Tsundere. It has to be seen to be believed.
Anyone in Dawn of War when referring to the Orks. It's probably the reason they've never been a primary villain in the series: it's hard to take a situation seriously when characters talk about Nobz and Boyz (among other orky things) with a straight face.
Space Marines in most depictions tend to fall into this category when they're not pissed off, brooding or completely Ax-Crazy. Most Imperial Guard command units are either this trope or overly bombastic.
This is subverted "completely" in Okami's Official Art book, which has a certain image that pokes fun at her 'strict and serious' in-game personality, and is described as being 'a more intimate reflection of her as a person'. What is Sakuya doing in this image that is so comically different to her demeanor in-game, you ask? Checking out her ass in a mirror, with Issun in the corner, getting a good view.
Green Genie: [Turning him back] Tell me: were you born this dull? Or did you have to go to school to learn it?
Gala from Legend of Legaia is generally an extremely serious fighter monk, but when he is half-forced into acting as the Straight Man in a comedy show, he is amazingly successful at making people laugh. Gala himself is shocked by this!
Emotionless Girl Presea Combatir of Tales of Symphonia. By the sequel, her actions clearly indicate that she has regained her sense of humor, bu she still speaks in a monotone making even the most ridiculous lines sound completely serious.
Gaius in Tales of Xillia 2 provides pretty much all of his humor in this fashion, being so serious that some in the party are dumbfounded when he actually chuckles at something on one instance.
Unlock Dr. Tan in Dance Central 2 and you get a Mad Scientist character for whom dancing is Serious Business, meaning he deadpans his way through Lady Gaga and Britney Spears dance routines that would be vague sexy for a female character, and absolutely hilarious for him.
A great chunk of the humor in King's Quest VI comes out of Prince Alexander being determined to react to everything with the same serious, polite, poised and gentlemanly demeanor. Whether it's giving gallantly flirtatious praise and a serenade to a set of giggling wallflowers (as in, actual sentient plants), or patiently mediating a pair of chessboard queens arguing over giving a lump of coal as a wedding present when it's clear he'd rather be facepalming. It starts reaching The Chew Toy status after a fashion.
In Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing, everyone's voice clips indicate they're having fun racing each other—except Shadow the Hedgehog, who takes the races with utmost seriousness and treats it as a life-and-death matter. His Serious Business attitude makes him as funny as anyone else on the roster.
Samurai Warriors: Hattori Hanzo, especially when he's around the ever chipper Nene.
Miles Edgeworth. Particularly notable whenever an elderly female witness is on the stand. Edgeworth is irresistible. Calisto Yew from Investigations lamphades this by noting Edgeworth's serious demeanor makes her laugh uncontrollably. Which means that any time his demeanor is shaken (and given the kind of stuff that goes on in these games, that's at least once a case), his reaction is absolutely hilarious. Most memorably: "What the HELL is that wriggling piece of plywood!?"
And, to a lesser extent, Phoenix. His finger-pointing antics pale in comparison to the quirks of the Bunny Ears Lawyers he has to deal with on a daily basis.
Shelly de Killer, gentleman assassin and ice cream eater.
Also Edgeworth's mentor Manfred Von Karma. The man demands that his ATM PIN (0001) be entered as evidence proving his perfection. And he does it with a straight face.
For all his own Bunny-Ears Lawyer qualities, Apollo Justice fits into this as well. He tries his damnedest to act professional, but it's made hard when his assistant is a quirky magician who uses magic panties and a large, wooden puppet for tricks, the prosecutor he usually faces is a rock star on the side and air guitars in court, the detective he teams up with is generally apathetic and likes to throw snacks at his head, and his mentor is spacey and rather condescending. That's not even getting into his attempts to be serious around the usual insanity of the witnesses.
Mai Kawasumi in Kanon, due to her uniqueness in not rising to all of Yuichi's jokes and kidding. Just watch her at lunch or when Yuichi considers groping her just to get some kind of a reaction... and nearly getting beheaded before even starting to move.
Miku in A Profile. Be careful what you tell very serious people to do, Masayuki. They might do as you ask... and then you'll have them saying 'I love you' with a deadpan face during every pause in the conversation.
Though it isn't often, Nero Chaos of Tsukihime, thousand year-old uber-vampire with a body comprised of 666 demon beasts composed of pure chaos, is sometimes called into this role during side stories. His crowning moment? Participating in an involved game of tag.
Roy is the realistic Deadpan Snarker and Straight Man to the rest of his party's wacky hijinks. His death has led to the rest of the party having various breakdowns both comedically and mentally.
Vaarsuvius has had his/her moments, too.
V: Fascinating. Durkon, I have just now formulated a theory that encompasses both Nale's most likely method of engagement and the most suitable response on our part. Durkon: THE TREES BE ATTACKIN'!! RUN FER YER LIVES!!! V: Ah, I see you have already grasped the core principles of my theory.
Referenced in Girl Genius, when an actor in the travelling Heterodyne show explains his character: "Klaus keeps his dignity, or tries to. That's what makes him funny."
Susan from El Goonish Shive occasionally fills this role, due to her serious attitude towards pretty much everything. Due to this, she is, among other things, a favorite cuddling perch for Tedd's cat-hedgehog Jeremy. In addition, a early running gag established that, whenever she did anything overly cheerful, it was so alien to her usual personality that it couldn't be anything but hilarious (to us).
Sakido from Slightly Damned spends most of her time brooding, a pastime which is considerably hampered by living in the same dimension as her goofy, affectionate brother Buwaro.
Tag, a warship AI for Tagon's mercenaries in Schlock Mercenary, tends to react to any situation with absolute, deadpan seriousness, while still producing a punchline. The two weeks following this strip are a good demonstration.
Raizel from Noblesse is an absolutely quite personification of The Stoic. Yet his unfamiliarity with modern technology is the primary source of humor early in the series.
Sir Eglamore is too serious sometimes. So "Jolly Elfsberry" made the knight play an Overprotective Dad just to pull his leg. Note that Annie was less than amused by his prancing until the moment she saw what's going on (the next page), but then immediately joined this game, barely holding laughter.
The Adventures of Dr. McNinja is this trope applied to an entire webcomic. The main character is an Irish Ninja Doctor, who's friends with a cloned Benjamin Franklin, has a gorilla for a secretary, and has a sidekick in the form of a kid bandito with a gloriously huge mustache and his velociraptor. And it only gets weirder from there. However, the comic never seems to realize how utterly insane it is.
The title character of The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! could hardly be called grim (more like "extremely mellow"), but he lives this trope. At one point he casually asks Jerry the MIB whether he should put up some kind of screens to keep spaceships from constantly crashing into his roof, and asks how Jerry deals with the problem at his house.
Worf unsurprisingly takes on this role in Larp Trek. Picard has his moments, too.
The Whateley Universe has several such characters. Sometimes, it's Stormwolf, the leader of the Wild Pack, and the most serious, unamused, straight arrow since the invention of arrows. This plays off well against Deadpan Snarker Phase, comedian Chaka, and the rest of the protagonists in Team Kimba.
Within Team Kimba, there's Ayla, who while not lacking a sense of humor, is not exactly the type of person who takes jokes well when he is the punchline. Ayla's status as The Comically Serious was eventually lampshaded. See the quotes page
Agent Washington from Red vs. Blue: Reconstruction behaves like an actual agent from a secret military in the future. Contrasts well with the whacky mishaps the main cast. The red and blue armies also do this, by tying Caboose up in the brig and putting Grif and Simmons in front of a firing squad.
Earlier in the series, Tex also qualifies. Though to a lesser degree. Her toughness was played for action and being a badass, rather than humor.
This is the entire point of Average Cats — it's hilarious precisely because the captions are matter-of-fact and serious. The captions also sometimes venture into Suspiciously Specific Denial. They never stop being mock-serious.
Lampshaded when Team Four Star did Dragon Ball Z Kai Abridged, which covered the entire first season in 2 minutes. Tien's only line in this is "I'm the only serious character in this show. That's the joke".
In the episode "Flash and Substance", Batman passes the Unfunny torch to fellow JLU member Orion.
This strip from Dave Willis's webcomic Shortpacked! illustrates the basic concept of the Unfunny, theorizing that Batman's grim demeanor makes him the ultimate straight-man. Case in point: Batman with babies.
Even in the Grand Finale of Justice League Unlimited, where he threw himself hopelessly at a villain who could take punches from Superman, he was laughing at the Bat's sheer tenaciousness. Of course, in lieu of better ideas, which is what Batman normally does, what else was there to do?
Who can forget the ending of This Little Piggy when Batman is forced to sing? And actually has a great voice!
In "Kid Stuff" when the Justice Leaguers are de-aged into childhood Batman still keeps up his grumpy demeanor. This becomes actual unfunny at the end of the episode, when he mentions that he stopped being a child at the age of 8 — when his parents were murdered.
A rare Batman laugh came when Harley Quinn told him how The Joker will love her for successfully putting Batman in a Death Trap. However, it was more an Evil Laugh meant to freak Harley out.
In the same vein as Batman, Zuko's perpetually frowning, serious demeanor leaves him wide open to many a humorous moment, partially to being paired with his foil of a jolly unclenote hilariously parodied in this comic.
Subtly acknowledged later in the series when Sokka asks Zuko if he's happy now that he's foiled Sokka's plan, and Zuko replies, deadpan, "I'm never happy." Sokka and Zuko work together in this role almost as well as Zuko and Iroh.
Sokka started out as a stern, down-to-earth, warrior-in-training, but his Comically Serious moments, as well as improvisations from his comedian voice actor, soon turned him into a goofy Plucky Comic Relief. Also see him trying to work with a bunch of out-there "nomads" in "The Cave of Two Lovers".
Azula: That's a sharp outfit, Chan! Careful, you could puncture the hull of an Empire-class Fire Nation Battleship, leaving thousands to drown at sea! Chan: ... Azula: Because... it's so sharp!
In The Legend of Korra, Korra's airbending teacher Tenzin takes on this role. He doesn't think that the shenanigans going on around him are at all funny, which of course means he becomes the target of endless inconveniences and humiliations. Also becomes a case of Not so Above It All.
Amon has shown potential to be this too if the memetic "Comedy Amon" is any indication.
Chase Young maybe dangerous, smart and one evil villain, but he's still a serious character trapped in a rather goofy show like Xiaolin Showdown.
Benson from Regular Show. He HAS a sense of humor, and he's lightened up over the course of the show, but he can be very uptight, angry, and many of the things listed in the above example. Even when everything going on around him is hilarious, he'll still be red-faced and screaming. "GET BACK TO WORK OR YOU'RE FIRED!!!"
The episode "Brother From Another Series" revealed that this trope is why Sideshow Bob became Krusty the Clown's sidekick instead of his brother Cecil. As Krusty explains after a poor pie-in-the-face gag from Cecil's straightforward goofy clown audition:
Krusty: Free comedy tip, slick: the pie gag's only funny when the sap's got dignity. (sees Bob) Like that guy. Hey, Hal, pie-job for Lord Autumnbottom there!
Bob then gets hit in the side of the head with a pie, causing his huge, bushy, palm-tree-like hair to spring out of his hat and causing everyone to die with laughter.
Principal Skinner as well.
One episode had the family visiting a comedy club. One of the comics, with a dreary expression on his face that never changes, walks up to the mike and simply says: "I finally got around to reading the dictionary. Turns out the zebra did it." (Homer is the only person who doesn't laugh.)
Optimus Prime has shades of this in Transformers Prime. Bulkhead explicitly mentions never seeing Optimus laugh, cry or lose his cool, but funny stuff is made funnier by his completely deadpan reaction to it. After showing a LOLCats-esque internet meme that actually got Ratchet to chuckle, Jack asked Optimus if he wanted to see something funny, Optimus replied rather bluntly "No."
In another incident, Optimus is called upon by Agent Fowler to talk to his superior General Bryce in order to alleviate some tension regarding recent events. Given that Bryce and the camera-man were not expecting Optimus to literally be outside their window, it results in them acting befuddled talking to a 30 foot robot. Optimus meanwhile remains courteous and polite the entire time.
Another giant robot with no sense of humor is the Decepticon Lugnut from Transformers Animated. Luggy is a gigantic and merciless war machine with a completely serious and fanatical devotion to his lord Megatron. As opposed to his more eccentric partner Blitzwing, he never, ever jokes. He's also often hilarious.
As opposed to his originalsource, Shere Khan in TaleSpin is a master of this trope. No matter what insanity is occurring around him, Khan responds to it in the exact same deadpan growl as he uses during a regular business meeting. In fact, if Khan ever smiles at you it's probably a good idea to run like hell.
Case in point; When fighting a monster that was mutated from Steven's breakfast, she says, completely seriously, "Now it has all the powers of a breakfast!"
The stereotype of the Germans being what it is, this seems a rather inevitable result.
Thanks to a combination of attempted clinical tone and strange or even downright silly subjects, The Other Wiki occasionally dabbles in this trope. For example, their page for Butte County High School, home of the Butte Pirates. Similarly, their 'plot' section for The Lonely Island song "Jizz In My Pants". Or their entry on "cool".
"The Raven Paradox" page takes advantage of this, captioning a picture of apples as "non-black, non-ravens" to aid in illustrating the paradox.
Part of the reason why animals like chickens are so funny. They lack facial expressions, which make them look serious all the time. The illusion is heightened by their prim and proper stance and mannerisms, and thus they look silly when they freak out about something.
It helps a lot that cats have such humanlike faces that people subconsciously think cats can smile, heightening the disconnect.
Cats hold themselves in such a dignified manner and are often quite fastidious and neurotic, which makes their (actually quite common) clumsy or goofy moments even funnier.
In response to a glaring mistake on StarWars.com's Encylopedia, Wookieepedia, priding itself on being a source for anything and everything in Star Wars canon, created this article. As of now, "Kamino" being a unit describing the constant height of clone troopers is technically canonical. An administrator archived this and altered the template for denoting that something was mentioned in the Encylcopedia (allowing the archival link) to facilitate the article. Brief, jocular consideration was given to creating an article on 1.87 meters the planet, but it was decided that that would have been ridiculous. Even after this is inevitably (Read:eventually) rectified, a snippet on the error shall appear in the clone trooper's article.
Most satirists tend to be this way. They would say something that would be really outrageous and silly while keeping a straight face about it.
MMA fighter Georges St-Pierre appeared in a commercial for an energy drink, in which the director explains all kinds of over the top things he wants to happen in order to demonstrate all the energy. In the end, GSP just stands there with a bottle, staring expressionlessly into the camera and goes:
"NOS Active helps give you energy. It comes in true refreshing flavours. Buy it. With your money."