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"Nicolas Cage approaches every role the same way — how wouldn't a real person tackle this situation? This is often executed on camera by a series of facial spasms to shame even Jim Carrey or a Tex Avery cartoon, as Cage contorts and tics his way through a series of either unrestrained emotion or unpleasant bowel turmoil."
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A ridiculously larger-than-life character, public speaker, or orator full of charisma, energy, joie de vivre, and poetically powerful speeches with dramatic gestures that can devastate a scene to a billion pieces and transform even the most humdrum scene into the most GRANDIOSE. Often played by a guest star with an Internet Movie Database listing longer than the rest of the cast put together.

Large Hams usually lack an indoor voice, and greatly relish badass boastings where they will punctuate and emphasize EVERYTHING. The first line from the Large Hams will be dramatic, portentous, often just before the act break and can almost always be replaced with: "Did somebody order A LARGE HAM?!" Try it at home; it's great fun.

Popular implementations include: BRIAN BLESSED in Britain, William! Shatner! In! North! America!, and Norio Wakamoto in Japan. Many large hams in the past have some experience in stage acting and theater: when you have to poetically act for the back rows (especially when coupled with music) it makes sense. Having an outrageous appearance is helpful but not a requirement. While often male, actresses can pull it off, but it's rarer for them (due in no small part to the expectation that female characters will be more emotional anyways). Often cast as a One-Scene Wonder, or a key redeeming element in shows that are So Bad, It's Good.

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It's based on the term "ham actor", meaning one who overacts, but where that term origininated is unclear: it's been suggested that it comes from the use of ham fat as a cheap make-up remover in the old days of theatre, or because "ham" serves as short for "amateur" (as in "ham radio"); Leslie Charteris stated it derived from "Hamlet" in a The Saint short story. Another possibility is the phrase refers to being 'hamfisted', heavy-handed and not delicate or careful.

Note however that a Large Ham is not necessarily a bad actor, it is either an artistic choice made by the actor for a given production or an acting style. Directors hire William Shatner because he is a Large Ham, and that's what they want for a particular character. In fact it generally takes a good actor, or at least an experienced one, to pull this off successfully because it takes some skill to know how far is too far. And actually going too far is harder than it looks.

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One of the United Kingdom's most active export industries. If a character is depicted as an American in a BBC series, he's likely to be one of these. If in a few scenes many Large Hams come together, the likely result is Ham-to-Ham Combat.

Large Hams are a very rich source of Vitamin Meme and very often feature in YouTube Poops.

While Narm is their primary flaw, the large hams are likely to have come from Hillshire Narm. (Go Keet!) But more often these actors are Narm Charm. A few moments of over-acting do not make a Large Ham. The actor must, to all intents and purposes, be deliberately playing the character that way.

A Large Ham may occasionally be an example of Crazy Is Cool. Often a character trait of the Boisterous Bruiser. Deviled Hams also enjoy getting Drunk on the Dark Side. A Smug Super relishes showing off their power this way. Reality Is Unrealistic: a lot of real people are melodramatic or overly emotional. It is therefore NOT unrealistic at all for a character to be this way, despite how it may appear and what plenty of amateur critics will say. The major reason this is often criticized is actually because being melodramatic can be very annoying. But what these critics forget is that a well-written character is not necessarily a likeable one. Writing a hammy character is NOT bad writing. It's only bad writing when the hamminess makes no sense.

Note that although it is rare, one can be very hammy without raising one's voice at all. Being hammy is about the emphasis in what you say (and Milking the Giant Cow to no small degree), and while emphasis can be easily shown by having No Indoor Voice, it is not the only way. This is what makes the Cold Ham trope possible.

If it is the setting itself that seems to demand that ham be served in profusion, dipped in abundant Hot Blood, because it's just how the setting works, you may be in front of a World of Ham: those can provide for marvelous entertainment, if your Willing Suspenders Of Disbelief are elastic enough.

Compare Melodrama, Ham and Cheese, Milking the Giant Cow, Camp, Evil Is Hammy, Incoming Ham, The Ham Squad, Ham-to-Ham Combat, Drama Queen, Comical Overreacting, Suddenly Shouting.

Contrast Danger Deadpan, The Stoic, Soft-Spoken Sadist, The Quiet One, though Cold Ham allows overlap.

Just so it's noted, just because a character/actor is hammy does not mean they are bad or ridiculous -- far from it!


Examples subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Asian Animation 
  • Not only he speaks in rhymes, Jarjit from Upin & Ipin speaks some of his lines dramatically, has the most over-the-top attitude compared to his friends and has a voice too deep for his age.

    Audio Plays 

    Comedy 
  • Brian Regan:
    "MMMMMMAAANNNNNNSSLLLAUGHTER"
  • Dane Cook can be one. Frankly, he'd probably be boring if he didn't tell even the most mundane of jokes by running in circles and screaming.
  • Robin Williams
  • Lewis Black
  • German cabaret artist Serdar Somuncu often poses as a Large Ham, intentionally exaggerating the trope.
  • Patton Oswalt
  • The FIRE-BREATHIN' DRAGON in "St. George and the Dragonet," lampshaded by an exchange when St. George busts him for maiden-devouring out of season.
    Dragon: Out of season?! You'll never pin that rap on me, do you hear me, cop?
    St. George: Yeah, I hear you. I've got you on a 4-12, too.
    Dragon: A 4-12? WHAT'S A 4-12!?!
    St. George: Overacting. Let's go.
  • Andrew "Dice" Clay
  • Rik Mayall
  • Alexi Sayle

    Comic Strips 

    Myths and Religion 

    Pinball 

    Podcasts 
  • Jessica of Fat, French and Fabulous, in contrast to Janel's Deadpan Snarker, has an over-the-top, bombastic style.
    "This year Canada was like: fuck you, our coins glow in the dark now."
    "THEY GLOW IN THE DARK!"
  • Video game music podcast Nitro Game Injection has Larry Oji. With him, EVERY episode is sponsored by ham.
  • Random Assault: Mitch, if he's given too much rope.
  • Ghost of True Capitalist Radio is a massive ham(bone) thanks to his Hair-Trigger Temper and a large number of trolls calling in.
    Ghost: I'M A CAAAAAAAAPITALIIIIIIIIIST!!! AND I DESERVE. THE RESPECT. ACCORDED THAT GODDAMN TITLE I'VEBEENSAYINGTHATSINCE DAY WWWUUN!!!
  • While Cecil from Welcome to Night Vale has his moments, perhaps the best Night Valean example comes from Jackson Publick's Hiram Mcdaniels. Well, two out of five, anyway.
    Green Head: Do you hear the beating of my terrible wings? Do you feel the flames lick at the corners of a life you once thought belonged to you?
    Purple Head: AND YOU WILL NEVER HEAR IT! IT'S A SECRET! AND BURIED IN A SECRET PLACE!
  • From such web podcasts as With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus, James Adomian's oft-used Tom Leykis impression. James Adomian takes Tom Leykis' eccentric personality and dials it up. What we have is a screaming, raving, self-aware misogynist who never lets anyone get a word in edgewise.

    Radio 
  • Sir Donald Sinden, in the BBC Radio adaptation of Death On The Nile. And the BBC Radio adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles. The TV series Never The Twain was one long Ham-Off between him and Windsor Davies.
    • From Spitting Image:
      Sir Donald: Do you serve... a ham salad?
      Waiter: We serve salad to anyone.
  • The radio version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy features a particularly hammy performance from their Zaphod Beeblebrox. This can also apply to the TV version, it used the same actors, but the low-budget second head tends to reduce the ham. Also the corporate executive Hig Hurtenflirst, who only appeared in the radio version of the franchise.
  • Ray Goulding, one-half of radio satirists Bob & Ray, who used his classic theatrical baritone to great effect in skits calling for this character type. Partly justified by the medium he was parodying, but mostly just because he was having a whole lot of fun.
  • Edwin Blackgaard is an in-universe example from Adventures in Odyssey, but he's almost as bad off-stage. It makes for a very sharp contrast with his evil brother, Regis, who gives a quieter, more even-handed performance and is scarier for it.
    • Regis even lampshades this when he's talking to Jason, saying "My brother may be a scenery chewing ham, but he does have excellent taste."
  • On That Mitchell And Webb Sound, both Mitchell and Webb have their moments:
    • Webb's would be the title character of the recurring sketch, "The Surprising Adventures of Sir Digby Chicken Caesar", an insane hobo who thinks he is a dashing adventurer.
    • Mitchell's more prone to histrionics, but is not likely to top the series 3 finisher, where he played a man with no arms, legs, torso, or neck, engaged in a feverish and increasingly ludicrous description of the world's most beautiful art object.
      • "ANGELA! SPIT VACUUM!"
  • Basil Rathbone: "I love Radio, but then I am an awful ham!"
  • Anthony Head ([yes, Giles from Buffy) as gloating Card-Carrying Villain Mr Gently Benevolent in Dickensian parody Bleak Expectations
  • Tom Baker as Sir Edward Marshall Hall in The Trials of Marshall Hall. Justified, since Sir Edward was well-known for his florid, theatrical style in court.
  • BBC film critic Mark Kermode can go into this category sometimes, especially when he gets into his trademark rant modes.
  • Riders Radio Theater: Pretty much the whole cast, given it is satirical radio melodrama.
  • Anyone and everyone involved in The Navy Lark. The show had to be on the radio — there's no way the BBC could have ever afforded all the scenery the cast would have eaten.

    Roleplay 

    Tabletop Games 
  • VERY common with Tabletop RPG Game Masters. When the interactive lifespan of your average NPC is measured in a handful of combat rounds, you have to make the most of it!
  • Anyone in Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine with the (Overacted) Speechlessness Bonus XP condition will most likely be devouring the scenery at the drop of a hat. The pregen character Leonardo de Montreal from Glass-Maker's Dragon would be the standout here.
    • Also those with the Fist-Pump/Salute XP condition, as displayed by pregen character Jasmine Apocynum.
  • Some of the many alien powers in Cosmic Encounter seem designed to encourage players to play them this way, but especially the Sniveler.
    • And the Silencer, for whom booming 'SILENCE!' at the top of your lungs is almost mandatory.
  • In Exalted, it seems like one of the prerequisites for becoming one of the titular Exalted is to be a colossal ham, and The Fair Folk, Demons and Deathlords get in on it too.
    • Infernals have an especially large slice, since they can appease their demonic masters by ranting about their Evil Plan.
  • Given what Sentinels of the Multiverse is based on, this trope was inevitable:
    • Baron Blade lives and breathes this trope. If he does something he makes a spectacle of it. This is due in part to his insatiable ego and also in part to his desire to kill Legacy and have everyone know it.
    • Apostate is this in order to play up his fallen angel deception.
    • Citizen Dawn has ham to rival Baron Blade, as a lot of her schemes exist solely to show unpowered people how superior she is to them.
    • On a similar note, Citizen Hammer, in contrast to his partner Citizen Anvil, is just as hammy if not more than his boss.
    • Empyreon, a power-hungry villain that later becomes a scion of OblivAeon, is very hammy.
    • Speaking of the Big O, almost all of his lines are shouted. Combine this with his size and he's a literal large ham.
    • Kaargra Warfang is a very hammy character, being the villain's resident Boisterous Bruiser.
    • Meanwhile, on the side of good we have the hero's own resident Boisterous Bruiser, Haka who, as long as no innocents get hurt, enjoys a good fight.
    • Fanatic is, well, a fanatic who's constantly shouting about holy power as she smites evil.
    • Likewise, Ra, God of the Sun, is very hammy and scoffs at all who dare challenge him.
    • JUDGE MENTAL (yes, pronounced exactly like that) is a minor villain example since he shouts a lot, including his name. JUDGE MENTAL!
  • The color commentary mechanic in The Splinter rewards this. Professional players can pause in the middle of an action and describe what they're doing, similar to how reality TV shows cut away in the middle of an event so that the participants can describe how they felt and what they saw and did. Depending on how awesome and over-the-top their description is, that player can get a bonus to their dice pool.
  • Teenagers from Outer Space acuallydemands this of its players and Game Masters.
    "Something underwater on an alien planet has just grabbed your foot! If you arent screaming like a cat dipped in Nair(tm), you aren't properly grasping the seriousness of the situation."
  • Seemingly every person of higher rank in the Imperium of Man, Chaos, or other factions in the Warhammer 40,000 universe comes with a large slice of ham.

    Theme Parks 

    Visual Novels 
  • The Ace Attorney series typically has several hams in each one (despite having little voice acting).
    • Although a special nod goes to Damon Gant from the first game, and Luke Atmey from the third, both with dramatic gestures, thunder-splitting personalities and dramatic theme music.
    • The awesome hamminess of "OBJECTION!", "TAKE THAT!", "HOLD IT!", and "GOTCHA!". Particularly enjoyable when the lawyers get into shouting matches with each other. "OBJECTION!" "OBJECTION!" "I SAID OBJECTION!" "I SAID OBJECTION FIRST!"
      • Phoenix Wright's introduction in chapter 1 of Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney is filled with a similar level of hamminess. When you enter the bakery, Luke comments on how the staff must be really talented. Suddenly... "WELCOME!" Phoenix makes his grand entrance slamming his hands on the table and pointing his finger towards Layton and Luke just like if he was in the courtroom. (Keep in mind that Phoenix and Maya seem to have lost their memory when they entered Labyrinthia.) Then he pounds the dough extremely hard until Espella tells him Layton and Luke aren't customers.
    • Redd White. The man makes absolutely sure he's the least ignorable person in the room; he's got purple hair and wears diamond buttons, for pete's sake.
    • And Valant Gramarye, though this is justified in that he's a stage magician.
    • Maximillion Galactica deliberately puts on a hammy Camp Straight persona as part of his circus act; when he's startled into dropping it he's a Good Old Boy whose real name is Billy Bob Johns.
    • Furio Tigre can barely go a sentence without roaring in anger.
    • Godot's ability to consume ungodly amount of coffee is a direct result of the sheer density of his hamminess creating a singularity in his metabolism.
    • Franziska is almost sane compared to the rest of the cast, but this doesn't stop her from attacking everyone in sight with her whip, ranting at both Phoenix and Edgeworth for besmirching her family's honor, and using the word "fool" approximately twenty-seven times per sentence when she gets upset. Edgeworth even snarks about her "flair for the histrionic."
    • Dick Gumshoe is so huge and boisterous that every other line of his shakes the screen as if he's generating earthquakes with his mouth.
    • Apollo Justice specifically trains his No Indoor Voice to be as hammy as possible. He mentions it constantly and calls it his Chords of Steel.
      • Lampshaded in the demo version of the game where Apollo loses his voice in the middle of the trial due to overdoing his vocal chords training.
    • The fifth game gives us Yuri Cosmos, a man who feels the protagonist of his own story and narrates it like the most enthusiastic of narrators, Robin Newman who does this as part of her Sweet Polly Oliver routine, and even when it's over she still keeps the ham, just in a MUCH more feminine way, and Bobby Fulbright who has almost no understanding of emotion and is overcompensating.
    • Pees'lubin Ahndustandin in Spirit of Justice is a musician who turns his court testimony into an impromptu concert. And when pressed, he turns into a rock star and starts acting like a member of KISS.
  • Gundham Tanaka from Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair yells almost every line and is constantly boasting that he's a demon from hell, he also calls his four pet hamsters the 'Dark Devas of Destruction'. His whole demeanor is that of a super-villain, though he sometimes gets sheepish when Sonia compliments him.
  • Hideo Kuki of Majikoi! Love Me Seriously! grabs the attention of every scene he is in, Visual Novel and anime.
  • While the visual novel Soushuu Senshinkan Gakuen Hachimyoujin is loaded with ham in general, the major antagonist Amakasu manages to be an explosion of ham even by writer Takeshi Masada's standards. He pretty much dominates any scene he is in with his larger than life personality and just energetic presence. BANZAIII!!

    Web Animation 
  • Acedemy Sugoi Seiun: Itachi is always over the top.
  • Bravest Warriors: "I'M CATBUG!" His voice actor is 6 going on 7, after all.
  • Camp Camp is just evenly split between a World of Snark and a World of Ham, in that whoever isn't a cruel snarker is over-the-top quirky, giving an excuse for the actors to employ weird voices and have loads of fun. A standout is Preston, who has the excuse of being an aspiring writer\actor and yells so much his original VA lost his voice once after a recording session.
  • Counterspell: The Titan Triplets are a ham trio with varying levels of ham. Infernus is most definitely the hammiest as he is the one who put together their introduction in the first place. Ultrex is middle ground as he goes through with the hammy introduction but is annoyed when Infernus fights Atma. Atma-X is the least hammy as he ends up corpsing his part of the intro to the point that Infernus ends up getting angry at him for screwing up their introduction.
  • Dreamscape: Nik comes off as extremely whiny, but he's just putting on a show.
  • DSBT InsaniT: Alex is prone to bragging, and would qualify as Evil Is Hammy if he was a straight-up villain instead of being Ambiguously Evil.
    • Seth is not as hammy as his rival, but its there. He'll describe his actions in bellowing bravado rather often.
    • Lisa is especially hammy when she is trolling someone, in which she will banter with extreme bravado.
  • The Big Bad of Dusk's Dawnadmits to enjoying himself while he casts disaster on Ponyville, and seems to be the most energetic actor. This isn't saying a whole lot, as everyone else is stiff or unintelligible sometimes.
  • FreedomToons: Bernie Sanders is portrayed this way, and is often flailing his arms while speaking.
  • Strong Bad from Homestar Runner. In Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, when Dadgeresque, a.k.a. Senor Cardgage, "died", and Dangeresque, a.k.a. Strong Bad, sounded like his head was about to blow off his body. This was just one of his many instances of hamminess, however.
    Strong Bad: Well, I heard a techno song one time that went like, 'Doom doom doom doom', and then this other part came in and it was like, "Dudalado! Dudalado! Dudalado! Dudalado!" And there's always this high-pitched noise, you know, like a siren that's like, "DOO-DA-DA-DIDDLE!! DOO-DA-DA-DIDDLE!!!" And then there's the obligatory old movie quote from some sci-fi movie, it's like, "The system is down! DOO-DA-DA-DIDDLE!!! DOO-DA-DA-DIDDLE!!!!"
    Strong Bad: WHY? WHY DO MY THIRTY-YEAR-OLD ELECTRONICS KEEP BREAKING ON ME???
  • In Hunter: The Parenting, Big D is an enormous, bombastic man with No Indoor Voice. His first line is a bellowed "About FUCKING time!" and he never lets up.
  • The Most Epic Story Ever Told in All of Human History: Ridiculously Epic and Ridiculously Epic Fail are both great embodiments of the Evil Is Hammy trope. The Epic Skatepark Owner is also a rather hammy character, though his hamminess is downplayed compared to the other two.
  • Most of the main characters of No Evil are subtle, snarky, or otherwise non-hammy - the loudest of them are goofball coyote Huey and Beary Friendly Canadian Paula. The minor characters, on the other hand...
    McCoy Village Idiot: I! WILL NOT! LET YOU TAKE! MAAA! VILLAAAAAGE!
  • Red vs. Blue has in its main characters moron Caboose, Camp Gay moron Donut ("Oh my gosh! You were supposed to feed my pet cat! Whiskers!"), and angry Southern moron Sarge ("I LOVE BLOOD AND VIOLENCE! I HAVE A BONER FOR MURDER!), all giving excuses for the actors to go crazy. On the bad guys there's O'Malley, a Card-Carrying Villain AI who loves to do an Evil Laugh ("Now be careful, mustn't give away our position with maniacal laughter!"; "Even though what I want is something frightening! WHAT I WANT is something PURE EVIL, AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!"); Wyoming; the Director of Project Freelancer who, while normally reserved, does have his moments ("I don't give a DAMN about you and your committee!"); Temple, a guy who got full of himself while seeking revenge; and Genkins, a Trickster God who apparently forgot how to be subtle and low-key ("I could create an entire race of beings with butts for faces... and faces for butts! Ah! Magnificent!"; "Come on, history! Let's fucking dance!"). And side characters include Mad Doctor \ Mad Scientist Dr. Grey ("I can't tell you how nice it is to get out of the office and away from all the complaining! 'My leg hurts!' 'I need blood!' 'But I don't want to have a robot arm!'") and wacky and unhelpful Mission Control VIC, "5-5-5, V-I-C-K!".
  • RWBY has two standout Genki Girl cases, title character Ruby Rose (voiced in a nasal voice that just helps the ham) and Nora Valkyrie. Volume 6 introduces grumpy old lady Caroline Cordovin, who compensates her small size by being highly aggressive, haughty and condescending - and when the heroes steal an airship from her, Cordo tries to take them down with an Humongous Mecha while angrily spouting hammy threats. And Volume 8 has Ambrosius, which is basically a buff Genie between his flamboyant speech and wild gesturing.
  • TOME: "NNNYYYYYYYYLLLLOOOOOOCCCCCKKKKKEEEE!!!!! DRAGON OF THE COLD STEEL! WHOOOSH!!!!!"

    Web Original 
  • Everyone of the Dream Team is guilty of this, but GeorgeNotFound and Sapnap are the kings of the trope, screaming in either joy, fear, or rage. It's especially shown whenever George is being chased in fear, or Sapnap screaming at Dream whenever he attacks.
  • In Gaia Online:
    • Pretty much everything Labtech X says.
    • Then we have JOHNNY GAMBINO.
    • Who could forget the Overseer?
    • Rigel and Mintaka are beginning to show hints of this as well.
      "SOOOO FABULOUS!"
  • Mille Chanteau of Ilivais X is the queen of ham. If she's in battle, it's all but guaranteed anything she says is an epic speech of some kind, and it's not limited to then either. Of course, there's also Seyne (that comes with being a Sanger Zonvolt Expy though), most of the GEKICOM and STRUQ members, hell, even Iriana has her moments.
  • Worm: The Simurgh. How can a silent angelic figure be a ham? By being a drama queen. The telepathic song she uses to Mind Rape people? She doesn't actually need that — she's just showing off and providing hints as to who she hit directly. Come the endgame , she upgrades Leviathan by falling from the sky to stab him with a sword containing the upgrade — it's explicitly described as being like an Angel descending from on high to slay the Serpent. And let's not forget her decoy's desperate grasping for the sky as she fakes her death vs Zion in the same fight.
  • Some many parodists on Hamiright.com can be extremely hammy, including Hogrimorfee (Agrimorfee), Red Ham (Red Ant) and Hammy G (Chucky G).
  • The TFWiki.net article on Shokaract, already a large ham in-fiction anyway, has every caption written in a similar hammy style, even when he's talking in Buffy Speak. Behold, the first caption:
    Shokaract: MISERABLE INCONSEQUENTIAL WORMS, I AM SHOKARACT, MASTER OF TIME, SPACE, AND SELF-AGGRANDIZING HYPERBOLE!


Alternative Title(s): Big Ham

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