The Power of Fixation

Read this article about the difference between good and bad characters in film comedy.

The author makes an excellent point.  Many of our classic comic characters have a particular fixation.

Consider the comedy-gold combination of the money-fixated Max Bialystock and the producer-fixated Leopold Bloom. Or Oscar Madison living with the germ-obsessed Felix Ungar. Or the war-fixated General “Buck” Turgidson in Dr. Strangelove. Or the sex-obsessed teens in countless movies. Or any of a number of Woody Allen characters.

Think about how quickly we identify those characters.  It’s the same with Cookie Monster.  Or Wile E. Coyote.  Or Pepe Le Pew.  There’s something truly enjoyable about seeing a character obsess over something.

At my first job, I worked with a guy named Brett.  I was in high school.  Brett was maybe 40 years old.  All Brett talked about was “The Highlander.”  The movies, the TV series, you name it.  Every conversation eventually wound its way back to “The Highlander.”  I’d never seen the movie.  It didn’t matter to Brett.  I think in some way, the Highlander was how Brett thought of himself in a perfect world.  What a great character.

It serves us well to enter a scene with an opinion or emotion.  But we could just as easily come in with an obsession.  As long as you know when to back off and when to punch the accelerator on your fixation, you could have a really fun character on your hands.

Got an improv question? E-mail me at boilingpointimprov[at]


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