From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Deadpan is a form of comic delivery in which humor is presented without a change in emotion or body language, usually speaking in a casual, monotone or very serious, solemn, matter-of-fact voice and expressing an unflappably calm, archly insincere or artificially grave demeanor.
The term "deadpan" first emerged as an adjective or adverb in the 1920s, as a compound word combining "dead" and "pan" (a slang term for the face). It was first recorded as a noun in Vanity Fair in 1927; a dead pan was thus 'a face or facial expression displaying no emotion, animation, or humor'. The verb deadpan 'to speak, act, or utter in a deadpan manner; to maintain a dead pan' rose in the early 40s. It stems from journalism rather than theatre. Today its use is especially common in humor from the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It is also very much appreciated in France, South Africa, Italy and Finland.
Many popular American sitcoms also use deadpan expressions, most notably Arrested Development and Seinfeld. Dry humor is often confused with highbrow or egghead humor. Although these forms of humor are often dry, the term dry humor actually only refers to the method of delivery, not necessarily the content.
A subtype of deadpan is deadpan violence.
Deadpan violence is used to describe a sentence, group of sentences, phrase or action that involves someone threatening or reacting to violence in an unemotional, detached way that comes across as jaded and blasé. This may be done to create a comic effect, by being out of place and in an unrealistic context.
A classic example of deadpan violence as humor occurs in one of the variations on Monty Python's skit "Cheese Shop". After a long and civil discussion, Mousebender tells the cheese merchant "I'm going to ask you that question ['Do you have any cheese?'] once more, and if you say 'no' I'm going to shoot you through the head. Now, do you have any cheese at all?" The merchant responds with a casual "no" and Mousebender shoots him through the head.
Another example is in the 1993 film Falling Down, in which the main character William Foster (played by Michael Douglas) is insulted by a man who has been waiting to use the phone booth previously occupied by Foster. He voices his irritation at Foster's prolonged use of the booth by saying "People have been waiting to use the phone." Foster responds to this by saying "Well, you know what?", and using a submachine gun to destroy the phone, added "I think it's out of order."
- Quentin Tarantino's black comedy and deadpan violence is used in Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown.
- Deadpan violence, stark atmosphere, and characters worthy of a pulp Faulkner.
- The 2003 book by Max Brooks The Zombie Survival Guide.
- The "Zombie Kid Likes Turtles" video on youtube, starring a young boy who delivers the line "I like turtles" in a deadpan manner.
Notable deadpan comedians
- Margaret Smith, American stand-up comedian.
- Morgan Murphy, American stand-up comedian and writer.
- Dave Allen, an Irish stand-up.
- Michael Ian Black, David Wain, and Michael Showalter are the trio in the stand up act known as Stella.
- Todd Barry, American stand-up comedian.
- Joey Bishop, American stand-up comedian and actor.
- Frankie Boyle, Scottish stand-up comedian
- Garry Shandling, American stand-up and actor of the Larry Sanders Show.
- Jimmy Carr, English stand-up comedian.
- Jemaine Clement, New Zealand comedian, actor, musician.
- Les Dawson, late English comedian; noted for his lugubrious delivery
- Jack Dee, English stand-up comedian.
- John Shuttleworth A character created by Graham Fellows, who incorporates deadpan humor into his music routines.
- Nathan Fielder Canadian stand-up comedian, writer and television personality.
- Stewart Francis, Canadian stand-up comedian, writer and actor.
- Zach Galifianakis, American stand-up comedian and actor.
- Jim Gaffigan, American stand-up comedian.
- Elliot Goblet, Australian comedian Jack Levi's stand-up persona
- Tom Green in The Tom Green Show.
- Hitoshi Matsumoto, Japanese comedian of Downtown
- Mitch Hedberg, American stand-up comedian, actor and writer.
- Kevin Nealon, American stand-up comedian and actor.
- Dave Hughes, Australian stand-up comedian.
- Jonathan Katz, American comedian, actor and voice actor.
- Stewart Lee, English stand-up comedian, writer and director.
- David Letterman, American comedian and Late Night Show host.
- Ted Chippington, English stand-up comedian.
- Norm MacDonald, Canadian stand-up comedian, writer and actor.
- Demetri Martin, American comedian, actor, and writer.
- Kenny Mayne, ESPN reporter and author.
- Danielle Sherring, Canadian comedian.
- Bret McKenzie, New Zealand comedian, actor, musician.
- Paul Merton, English comedian and actor, of Have I Got News For You. However, he has broken this style quite a few times.
- Dan Mintz, American comedian and writer.
- John Moloney - English comedian.
- Paul Mooney, American comedian and writer
- Dylan Moran, Irish stand-up comedian.
- Dave Mordal, American comedian, contestant on Last Comic Standing.
- Bill Murray, American comedian and actor.
- Bob Newhart, American stand-up comedian, TV and film actor, and voice actor
- Seth Rogen, Canadian actor, stand-up comedian and writer.
- Jackie Vernon caricatured the typically boring slide-projector presentation of vacation photos.
- Steven Wright, American stand-up comedian, actor and writer.
- Brian McKim, American stand-up comedian, writer and publisher of Sheckymagazine.com
- Buster Keaton, known as "Great Stone Face," became famous for never cracking a smile in any of his films. Strictly speaking, his was not a deadpan approach, since his face was actually very expressive. He subtly portrayed bemusement, anger, fear, and other emotions, but never smiled in a single one of his classic silents. In Go West, a cowboy forces him to smile, which he does by using his fingers to pull up the sides of his mouth. The result is a ghastly parody of a smile. Keaton also mugged, cried, laughed, and otherwise carried on in several of his earliest silent two-reelers with Fatty Arbuckle. Keaton did smile as a closing gag in the sound films Le Roi des Champs-Élysées (1934) and San Diego, I Love You (1944).
- Stan Laurel, of the double act Laurel and Hardy.
- Tommy Lee Jones, American actor whose style is ever present in the Men In Black films.
- John Cusack, most notably his role in Better Off Dead.
- Bill Murray. Most of his work entails him delivering overtly humorous lines with a genuine look of disinterest or indifference on his face, particularly in later works such as Lost in Translation, Broken Flowers and The Lost City.
- Charles Grodin. Often delivers lines in his roles (and in interviews) in a deadpan manner. Most notably in Midnight Run.
- Leslie Nielsen progressed from being a dramatic actor in films such as The Poseidon Adventure to a comedic actor due in large part to his seriousness in delivering nonsensical lines in movies such as Airplane! ("Surely you can't be serious!" "I am serious. And don't call me Shirley.") and The Naked Gun series.
- Peter Sellers, most famously for his role as the United States President (as well as Dr. Strangelove, and Captain Mandrake) in Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove and his portrayal of bumbling French police inspector Jacques Clouseau.
- Ben Stein, who was originally a university professor, found a new career as a comedy actor by exploiting the stereotype of the dull academic.
- Christopher Walken is best known for his deadpan affect and off-key pauses, which is most notable in films such as Pulp Fiction and True Romance, as well as in his many appearances on Saturday Night Live.
- Chevy Chase, known for his roles as Ty Webb in Caddyshack and Clark Griswold in National Lampoon's Vacation
- Zooey Deschanel, known for comedic deadpan roles in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Failure to Launch.
- Kamal Hasan, Indian actor and comedian known for his many Tamil language comedy films.
- Amanda Bynes, comedic actress and star of sitcom What I Like About You.
- Bea Arthur, comedic actress and star of Maude and Golden Girls.
- Clive Anderson, UK television presenter, host of Whose Line is it Anyway
- Jason Bateman known for his role as Michael Bluth on Arrested Development
- Jack Benny and Johnny Carson were famous for their "takes," blank stares toward the camera in response (or nonresponse) to something funny that had just happened.
- Mike Birbiglia, from Comedy Central and This American Life
- Steve Carell, from The Office television series.
- Michael Ian Black.
- John Cleese, in Monty Python's Flying Circus.
- Graham Chapman, also in Monty Python's Flying Circus.
- Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie of HBO's Flight of the Conchords (TV series) heavily incorporate straightfaced expressions in response to jokes into their comedic and musical routines on the show.
- Steve Coogan, British comedian and actor best known for his character, Alan Partridge
- Emily Deschanel, known for her comedic deadpan role as Dr.Temperance Brennan in Fox's Bones
- David Duchovny is famous for his deadpan humor; it can be seen in such TV series as Californication (TV series).
- Sacha Baron Cohen, in Da Ali G Show.
- Stephen Colbert is an American comedian, satirist, actor and writer, known for his deadpan comedic delivery.
- Peter Cook, pioneering British comedian of stage, screen, and script.
- Estelle Getty, best known for performing on the TV series The Golden Girls.
- Topher Grace, known for his role as Eric Forman on the sitcom That '70s Show.
- Tom Green on the MTV The Tom Green Show.
- Chelsea Handler in E's Chelsea Lately.
- Leigh Hart (also known as That Guy), most famous for New Zealand television show Moon TV, employs an Andrew Levy in Fox News's Red Eye w/ Greg Gutfeld.
- Lee Mack English stand-up comedian and actor.
- Colin Mochrie is famous for his deadpan humor in such TV series as Whose Line Is It Anyway?.
- Kenny Mayne, SportsCenter anchor.
- Rick Mercer, in This Hour has 22 Minutes and Talking to Americans (by making outlandish claims about Canada).
- Daria Morgendorffer, protagonist of the MTV cartoon Daria.
- Christopher Morris The alter ego of Chris Morris portrayed on Brass Eye, a satirical news investigation show in which the most hysterical headlines and stories are told completely seriously.
- Bob Newhart is known for his deadpan delivery and his slight stammer, featured on The Bob Newhart Show and Newhart, and in classic standup routines.
- The Office, BBC comedy co-written and co-directed by Steve Merchant and Ricky Gervais, and starring Ricky Gervais
- Pat Paulsen spoke in a blank monotone with heavy eyelids, usually opening with, "Good evening, I'm really excited to be here."
- Chris Parnell displays his deadpan delivery as Dr. Leo Spaceman on the NBC comedy 30 Rock.
- Anne Robinson, the Weakest Link known for acerbic remarks.
- Mo Rocca.
- Martin Starr, best known for the character of Bill Haverchuck on the TV series Freaks and Geeks.
- Ed Sullivan, host of the Ed Sullivan Show.
- Jeremy Piven, known for the character of Ari Gold (Entourage) on Entourage (TV series).
- The radio and television comedy team of Bob and Ray were known for their straightlaced portrayals of absurd characters.
- Justin Kirk, best known for his portrayal of Andy Botwin on Showtime's Weeds
- Henry Gibson, best known for his many roles in Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. His performance as Martin Short's harried supermarket manager, Mr. Wormwood, in the sci-fi/comedy film Innerspace is a deadpan classic.
- Agent Smith in "The Matrix".
- Shizuka Dômeki in "xxxHolic".
- Brock Samson in "The Venture Bros.".
- Alfred Pennyworth in Batman (Pre-90's)
- Chloe O'Brian in 24.
- Wednesday Addams and Morticia Addams in the 1990s films: "The Addams Family" and "Addams Family Values"
- Chandler Bing, portrayed by Matthew Perry from the show Friends
- Edmund Blackadder, played by British comedian Rowan Atkinson.
- Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star, whose catchphrase, "You're already dead" is ironic because of his deadly technique that can make fighters literally explode.
- Tim Canterbury, played by Martin Freeman, in The Office
- Father Ted Crilly, lead character in popular Irish sitcom Father Ted, played by Dermot Morgan
- Jim Halpert, played by John Krasinski, on "The Office"
- Daria Morgendorffer and Jane Lane, from Daria
- Mac in Green Wing
- Enid from Ghost World
- Mandy from The Grim Adventures Of Billy And Mandy
- Hank Hill from King of the Hill
- Droopy, the low-key animated movie character created by Tex Avery.
- Holly, the ship's computer in Red Dwarf, played by Norman Lovett and later by Hattie Hayridge.
- Brent Leroy, played by Brent Butt, in the television series Corner Gas.
- FBI agent Fox Mulder, as portrayed by David Duchovny, in the television series The X-Files.
- Noah Bennet, portrayed by Jack Coleman, in the television series Heroes expresses subtle lines of dry humor. Coleman is known by fellow castmates for his dry wit.
- Niles, the butler from The Nanny, played by Daniel Davis.
- Rick Spleen, played by Jack Dee, in Lead Balloon
- Jade Curtiss, from Tales of the Abyss.
- George Feeny, from Boy Meets World, played by William Daniels.
- Mokka from Magical Starsign
- Carlton the Doorman, off-camera persona from the TV show Rhoda.
- Michael Bluth, played by Jason Bateman from Arrested Development.
- Willow Rosenberg, played by Alyson Hannigan, in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when she becomes herself's vampire doppelgänger or when she becomes an evil witch.
- Yukishiro Tomoe in the manga-version of Rurouni Kenshin
- Kwame in Captain Planet and the Planeteers
- The Janitor, played by Neil Flynn, in the NBC television series Scrubs
- Takashi Takeda/Jumbo, from Yotsuba&!.
- GLaDOS from the video game Portal
- Logan Echolls in 'Veronica Mars'.
- Almost the entire cast of Gilmore Girls.
- Almost the entire cast of Home Movies.
- Huey Freeman from the comic and TV series, "The Boondocks".
- Frylock from Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
- Hoban "Wash" Washburne from Firefly and Serenity
- Craig Tucker.
- Mr. Grumpy, from The Mr. Men Show.
- Hauclir, from Chronicles of Malus Darkblade
- Kyon and Yuki Nagato from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.
- The Spy from Team Fortress 2.
- Ceviche from [Chowder]
- Ianto Jones from Torchwood
- Mark Twain is quoted as saying: "The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly suspects that there is anything funny about it."
- Melora Creager, founder of cello-rock band Rasputina uses a form of deadpan when describing the songs she is about to sing. One song she described as a tip on bringing back the idea of cannabalism as a source of survival for the human race, also for bringing back western culture which is "...in the process of collapsing..."
- Humphrey Lyttelton, jazz musician and radio personality, as chairman of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue was famous for his utterly deadpan delivery of even the funniest jokes
- Karl Pilkington, Sony Award winning radio personality, who rose to fame as a presenter on The Ricky Gervais Show, and created a podcast that entered the Guinness Book of World Records for its huge number of downloads.
- Sam Kekovich, an ex-VFL player who campaigns for citizens to eat lamb on Australia Day
- John Hodgman, humorist known mostly for his performances alongside Justin Long in a series of Apple ads as well as his appearances on The Daily Show, is recognized as a deadpan comedian.
- In British sitcoms, deadpan has always been common. Sitcoms include Father Ted, Only Fools and Horses, My Family, Red Dwarf and Not Going Out. Not Going Out is particularly famous for having entire episodes where there is no expression change at all from any of the cast members.
- Typically the cast of modern sitcoms such as Seinfeld, Friends, The Big Bang Theory, That '70s Show, Two and a Half Men, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Cheers, Frasier and 8 Simple Rules.
- Through its ten-year run, Friends often uses deadpan humor in its dialogue not just with the cast but also with high-profile stars such as Sean Penn, Winona Ryder and Bruce Willis.
- Two and a Half Men utilizes a great amount of deadpan expressions from nearly every character. For the role of Charlie Harper portrayed by Charlie Sheen, of Two and a Half Men, previously played serious and dramatic roles before branching onto comedy, most notably the film Platoon. Co-star Jon Cryer had portrayed comical characters with deadpan expressions in the past, with Sheen in Hot Shots.
- Gordon Strachan, renowned for his deadpan humor during interviews. Quotes attributed to Strachan have become legendary among football supporters.
- Ethan Iverson, pianist for The Bad Plus, whose song introductions are often filled with non-sequiturs and are delivered deadpan.