Arts & Entertainment

Character, Part 2

Judd Apatow

Lesson time 11:18 min

Learn how to milk the most humor out of your characters through carefully designed dynamics and strong presence.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Take the Time to Flesh Out Your Characters • Create Dynamics That Clash • Give Every Character a Strong Introduction


When we're creating characters, a lot of it is just about taking the time to flesh out who they are. So when Pete Holmes created Crashing, his wife cheats on him with another teacher at school-- the art teacher. And the character Leif was meant to be a bit of a New Agey kind of guy. But it wasn't that fleshed out. We weren't sure exactly what to do with him. But we did like the idea that he would be amazing at sex, because he's super tantric. And he also wouldn't get that mad when Pete yells at him for sleeping with his wife. He would just be all about love in a way that was somewhat absurd. But then we had to keep the character alive in other episodes. And we sat down and said, but who is this guy? It's a funny guy in the pilot for a scene, but who is he? And we knew he was an art teacher. And as we tried to create other stories we said, well, is he married? What's his situation? And who's he married to? And everyone kicked it around and decided that he's married to a wealthy person. And slowly we came up with that his wife's family has some really successful plumbing company, and maybe they feel almost like the mafia. That they're a little scary. And who knows what's going on? And he's a little bit of a kept man, probably because he's great at sex. And has this hard Italian wife. And then, you know, we could deal with, well, what are his issues? And is he in love with Pete's wife, with Jess? How does he feel about it? Is he lonely? Is he happy in his career? Where does he live? How much money does he have? What does he want? And that's what you usually get down to. You know, what does somebody want? How smart are they? Are they good or bad at sex? How do they relate to women. You write people's backgrounds. And the more details you have, the more stories for a TV show that you can come up with, or the funnier and the more fleshed out you can be when that's a character in your film. It really is about taking the time. And most people don't take the time. And you could watch a movie or a TV show, and always notice, oh, they didn't really think through that character. He doesn't have much going on. - How do you even know that this vagrant doesn't have AIDS? He looks like he has AIDS. - He doesn't have AIDS. - Brother, looks are deceiving. I do not have AIDS. I can assure you of that. I was tested right before my wedding. - He's married? - I know, it's bad. - You're married? - I'm married, man, and that's something that I have to deal with. - Good. I'm sorry it's hard on you. Sorry to fuck up your day. Who is this guy? How did you even meet this guy? - We work together. He's the art teacher. You've met him before. - He's not even a comedian. - Not everything is about being funny. He's a really talented artist. - Oh, I'm sure he's great. They give all the master artists third grade. What's your fucking medium, hand turkeys? Paste noodles? - Just give us a second. - G...

About the Instructor

No joke: at age 15, Judd Apatow took a dishwashing job at a comedy club to watch the acts. Today, he’s the comedic genius behind hits including The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Bridesmaids, and Freaks and Geeks. In his first-ever online comedy class, the Emmy Award winner teaches you how to create hilarious storylines, write great stand-up, and direct movies that leave audiences laughing.

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Judd Apatow

Judd Apatow teaches you how to write, direct, produce, and perform comedy for film and television.

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