Show Business is his bread and butter... whether he likes it or not.
He's been in the business for years, and has become absolutely jaded (especially if he started out as a Wide-Eyed Idealist). And he's not going to let anyone forget it. The things that come out of his mouth would never make it on the air in Real Life... unless, that is, he were unaware that the microphone was still on.
But there is the fact that deep in his heart, he does love his work. It's just that he rarely gets the opportunity to do it the way he feels it should be done. It's just he's often forced to do crap just to pay the bills.
Such a character was known in older movies as "The Ole Soft Shoe".
Compare Nice Character, Mean Actor, The Last DJ, Classically Trained Extra, I Was Young and Needed the Money, Jaded Washout, Fame Through Infamy (when you may not like doing something infamous in and of itself, but you like the "limelight" it gives), No Such Thing as Bad Publicity, White-Dwarf Starlet, Former Child Star, Japandering.
- In episode 10 of Oreimo, Kanako Kurusu, one of Kirino's school friends, is tricked by Ayase, another of Kirino's friends, into a cosplay contest, where she wears a Meruru costume that makes her look exactly like the character. Although offstage she gripes about it, while she's performing on the stage, she seems to give herself entirely to the act as she sings and wows the audience. Kanako does such an excellent job that Kirino, who was in the audience, doesn't recognize that its her friend cosplaying as Meruru.
- Akira in the Lucky Channel segments of Lucky Star, much to the chagrin of Shiraishi. The funny thing is she's not that old (she's fourteen), but started out as a child star (at three years old!) and has to keep up a Kawaiiko act.
- In Saki Shinohayu -dawn of age-, Kanna Ishitobi hates mahong, as a game seemingly based solely on luck. The reason she plays it, though, is so that she can defeat Hayari Mizuhara- the one person who has ever defeated her at a game.
- Loony Leo from the comic book Astro City is a strange example. He's a cartoon lion that was accidentally brought to life in the real world. He's spent his time as a "live-action" actor, a penniless vagabond, a supervillain, and was involved in the scandalous death of a 14-year-old girl by drug overdose, before he eventually leaves everything behind and settles down as the host of a novelty restaurant. After telling his whole depressing life story to a young executive who wanted to recruit him for a few local commercials, he scolds the kid for thinking he'd want to return to the spotlight after all he's been through. Then, at the last second, he changes his mind.
"Aw, hell, it's show business, right? Where do I sign?"
- Binky the clown from Garfield. He wanted to be an actor originally but they told him he was too short, apparently. So he both loves and hates his clown image.
- DC One Million gives us a superhero version: The future Starman hates being a hero, but loves the attention.
- Billy Mack, the old rock star in Love Actually.
- Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood.
- Baby Herman from Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
- Galaxy Quest: Alan Rickman's character, Alexander Dane, was once a serious Shakespearean actor. Ever since having starred in the titular television show, his career has been reduced to appearing at sci-fi conventions and opening electronics stores.
- Shakes the Clown
- In the film The Aristocrats, many of the interviewed comedians argue that this is the essence of The Aristocrats joke, since it's about a family that will sink to any depravity to be part of the glamour of showbiz. Sarah Silverman's version of the joke in particular runs thick with this trope.
- There's a very old joke about a man who walks into a bar smelling of filth. He complains to the bartender that he hates his job, cleaning up after the elephants in the circus. He shovels elephant droppings all day long and can't get the smell off of himself no matter how he tries. The bartender asks why he doesn't just quit his job. The man looks back, unbelieving, "And quit show business?!"
- In the Discworld book Soul Music, when a band shows major promise, and is recruited by Cut Me Own Throat Dibbler, he appoints a somewhat flattened (and smelly) troll named Asphault to carry their equipment. In homage to the joke, he cleaned up after elephants, but they often sat on him. When asked why he didn't leave, Asphault said "Show business is in me soul."
- One of the characters commented: "Only sat?" when Asphault described the elephants.
- Played with in Tom Clancy's Executive Orders Jack Ryan is giving his first public speech as President, and despite his disdain for the formalities cannot help but feel the allure when the audience wildly praises him. He compares it to a narcotic.
- Angel: Inverted with Lorne. As head of the W&H Entertainment Division, he is bogged down with so much work that he has to surgically remove his sleep ó and even then he still can't catch up. It becomes clear that it's Lorne's way of assuming his old Caritas role and bringing people together, even at great self-sacrifice.
- Johnny Fever in WKRP in Cincinnati starts out like this, but he's not as grouchy after Andy, the new program director, lets him play the music he wants to play (and say "booger".)
- Andy Kaufman's Excited Kids' Show Host-style stage persona was almost invariably revealed to be this at some point in the show, carrying over into some of his TV specials.
- House had a character like this in the season 4 episode Living the Dream. The patient of the week was the star on a daytime medical soap but felt ultimately unfulfilled with his job.
- This is Andy's entire character arc on Extras (and applies to some of the guest stars/minor characters as well).
- A particularly dark example: Mr. Jelly, the ill-tempered, one-handed clown on Psychoville.
- M*A*S*H: Major Charles Emerson Winchester, who was sent to the 4077th by a Colonel whom he always bested at cribbage. While nobody liked being in the southeast Asian theater, Charles detested it but was an admitted showoff at the operating table. Hawkeye dresses him down once, telling Charles that "without an audience, a patient means nothing to you."
- Jonathan Coulton's song "Bozo's Lament" is about a clown who hates and resents his job but doesn't know what else to do. "It sucks to be a clown."
- In Danganronpa, the Ultimate Baseball Star Leon Kuwata exemplifies beat-for-beat version of this trope, translated into playing sports rather than creating or performing art. Leon does enjoy playing baseball at heart, and he loves the attention, female fans, and the free-ride scholarship that baseball has given him. He just hates and resents having to do it constantly, until all the joy is gone and only the drudgery of endless pointless practice and games is left. The fact that he's a lazy bum at heart and so stupidly talented that he doesn't find much challenge in the game or see why anyone would need to practice at it doesn't help.
- One potential fate of Tex Murphy in the Pandora Directive involves Tex leaving the P.I. business and becoming a clown. Needless to say, his reasons for doing so render him quite jaded.
- Sven Bianchi in Questionable Content has a remarkable talent for writing country-western songs that are trite, sappy, and incredibly corny... but also incredibly marketable.
"Your eyes were as brown as a bottle of beer...." You can't sell this!I already did.Or rather, my lawyer is attempting to mediate in the bidding war. I'm thinking of buying a house.
- The Simpsons
- Krusty the Klown, who stage name is a hint at this. How much it actually applies to him varies Depending on the Writer. Sometimes he's depicted as a hack who's just in it for the money, at other times he laments the crappy material he has to work with. In one episode, he claimed that he'd need a "shoebox full of blow" to go through with producing a particular sketch. "The Last Temptation Of Krust" plays with both aspects: after noticing his humor is out of step with modern comedy, he quits his job and reinvents himself as an anti-establishment stand-up comedian with great success. Then he accepts a huge endorsement from Canyonero SUVs which causes his new career to tank and him to go back to his old job, which he doesn't mind since he realized his true talent was never comedy, but selling out.
- Reverend Lovejoy used to be enthusiastic about his job until an overly-clingy and needy Flanders got done inadvertently beating the love of his fellow man out of him.
- It's not the first time this happens either. When the Movementarian cult steals his entire flock, Lisa finds him spilling gasoline on the floor of his church to burn it down, lamenting "I can't believe it's come down to this again."
- This trope is also the ultimate reason for Sideshow Bob's descent from TV sidekick to homicidal maniac. Bob originally accepted Krusty's offer to be his sidekick because he thought he could both entertain and enlighten the children who would be watching, but his talents were utterly wasted by the lowbrow shenanigans Krusty subjected him to, which in Bob's own words "destroyed more young minds than pinball and syphilis combined!" Finally, Bob snapped and framed Krusty for armed robbery, taking over the show after Krusty was arrested. He immediately turned it into the kind of show he originally wanted to do, one that was educational, entertaining and uplifting all at once. And then Bart Simpson pegged him as the guy who framed Krusty and he went to jail. Suffice to say that it got worse from there.
- Baby Doll in Batman: The Animated Series starts out this way... and then goes waaaay further.
- An episode of South Park depicted Mickey Mouse like this.
- Rugrats: Miss Carol, host of a Show Within a Show in the episode "Word of the Day", secretly hates kids and is only in it for the money. Hilarity Ensues when Angelica overhears her and assumes the more vulgar version of her TV catch phrase was the real one.
- Mother Maggie, a children's TV host from Family Guy, hates children.
- Mommy Fortuna in The Last Unicorn. She keeps a dangerous harpy in her circus that she knows will kill her one day, but she doesn't care because she only wants to be remembered, which tormenting an immortal harpy will accomplish. When the unicorn suggests that the harpy be set free, Mommy interjects, "I'd quit show business first!"
- Nom Nom the Koala from We Bare Bears loves the money and fame that comes from being a viral video star, but hates dealing with his fans (especially the Bears).
- Italian singer Cristina d'Avena is said to feel this way, as she does exclusively cartoon theme songs, children shows and nothing else. Publically at least, she claims to be happy with her career.
- Marjoe Gortner, an evangelist preacher in the 60's (who later became an actor in movies such as Starcrash), explained in his documentary that he didn't believe what he preached but loved the attention and money - going so far as to say if he'd had a different background he'd probably have been a rock star.
- Despite the public perception that anyone in a mascot/animal/robot costume absolutely hates their job, this tropes is mostly averted by character performers. Many actually love their job and take pride in their level of skill. Especially sports mascots.
- Famously averted by Clayton Moore, The Lone Ranger (he loved the role so much his autobiography is called I Was That Masked Man).
- Former WWE Diva Sable... sorry Rena Lesnar has outright admitted that she never gave a shit about wrestling and only used it to get famous. In hindsight, it's no surprise since she couldn't wrestle, refused to take bumps and was reportedly a huge bitch to her co-workers.
- Politicians can fall into this, where they have little interest in accomplishing policy changes, but stay in their positions because they love the attention. US President Dwight Eisenhower is sometimes regarded this way.
- An extremely disturbing example occurred with O.J. Simpson, crossing over with White-Dwarf Starlet, after his legal and civil trials from 1994-1997. After a successful pro footbal career in the early 1970s, Simpson went on to be the spokesperson for Hertz rental cars, and from there he had a decently successful acting career through the 1980s - one of the first big examples of a pro-sports figure successfully adapting his fame into commercial success as a spokesperson/actor. He lived in upscale Brentwood, California, and regularly played golf with all of the upscale citizens of the community, including famous actors, judges, etc. Overall, he was held up as a major example of a respected and successful former pro-footballer who had settled into a comfortable life of fame. However, the nation-wide scandal of his double-murder trial (in 1994) and then civil trial (in 1997), utterly ruined his public persona. He lost all of his money in the civil suit, including his Brentwood home of 20 years, and had pariah status in the national eye. People who knew Simpson, however, said that he'd spent his whole life since high school being treated as special, because of his athletic talents - a major example of celebrity culture in America, he was never treated as if the rules applied to him. Whether or not you think Simpson was actually guilty, he was so utterly addicted to his celebrity status that after the trials, he couldn't really mentally process that he wasn't part of the limelight anymore. In the early 2000's, Simpson totally deteriorated, with no limits to how far he would debase himself just to be in the limelight again. This culminated in 2006 when he released a prank-based reality TV show, "Juiced", consisting of him making practical jokes on unwitting bystanders with hidden cameras. It was a ripoff of shows like 2003's "Punk'd"...starring O.J. Simpson (if you want to look up clips of "Juiced", brace yourself to see just how far someone can abandon his last shreds of human dignity out of an addiction to fame). Even his close remaining friends desperately tried to convince him that he was only humiliating himself, as well as his children. Problem is...Simpson had fallen so low that he genuinely didn't seem to care - it didn't matter what he was doing, so long as the cameras were pointed at him and people were talking about him.
- There's an old quotation about writing (sometimes attributed to Mark Twain, but so's everything) that basically sums this up: "Everyone wants to have written, but nobody wants to write." Writing something good enough to be published is often a matter of tiresome rewriting and editing as well as just sitting down to write something as often as you can, which many of the people who would like the limelight of having written don't have the time, or the discipline, to do.
- Tom Lehrer was and is an inversion, while he loved doing music and comedy, he was aggressively indifferent to his celebrity status. The best example is how he kept all his master tapes in a shoebox in his attic, and later gave the tapes to a fan on a whim.