Comedic Heels

August 25, 2008

I received more feedback for my “Cool Heels” column, last week, than I have for any other column I’ve written. Most people agreed whole-heartedly with my thought but the column also generated a lot of questions. Because of this huge influx in inquires I decided to expand my conversation on heels this week.

The most common emails were people asking me for my take on “Comedic Heels”. Comedic heels are a great topic because there are both plus and minuses to being the comedic heel. This is a very common role and I’m all in favour of it, because I think the comedic heel role is a very useful and important one.

The key to being a good comedic heel is making sure you are the punch line of your jokes. You want fans laughing at you not with you. When fans laugh at the heels misfortune or at how big of a joke he is, they are generally having a good time, and enjoying themselves. You always feel better about yourself when you can watch someone else being a bigger loser than you are.

There are a lot of people in the world who wish they were cooler or that they were more popular. Watching a heel be a complete loser and get laughed at by others allows fans to be in the cool group. The entire audience gets to collectively laugh at and point out how much of a jackass that heel is and it feels good. By being the biggest idiot in the room the comedic heel lets everyone else feel like the cool kids.

For my money the best comedic heel in the business right now is Santino Marella. He is so funny and entertainment that I look forward to his segments each week on RAW. More importantly though Santino is funny and entertaining without ever making himself look good. Santino has gone above and beyond to make sure he is the butt of every joke. No matter how much of an idiot you are, you can watch Santino Marella and take comfort in him being an even bigger one.

Don’t get me wrong though, there is more to being a good comedic heel than just being an idiot and a joke, there is a lot of skill to it. Santino’s comedic timing and facial expressions are fantastic. Santino is a tremendous promo and a very talented performer. Not every bumbling idiot can be a member of the 3 Stooges; it takes a lot of talent.

Once you have a great comedic heel you have a very useful commodity on your hands. Much like I mentioned last week about how if you have 2 people and one of them is cool, the other then looks like the loser, with the comedic heel you are in a situation where you have 2 people and one of them is a goofball idiot so other person looks cool be default. A good comedic heel can get the crowd behind almost any baby face. Because of this comedic heels are perfect opponents for debuting baby faces. It’s tough to get the crowd behind someone they don’t know but a heel like Santino is so established the crowd would be forced to get behind the new guy just to spite Santino. Marella is so good in his role because the crowd is just begging someone to punch him in the mouth and shut him up so who ever does this is the baby face and will get cheered as a result.

The comedic heel is also very useful because he is more expendable and doesn’t need to be protected as much as serious heels. Because the comedic heel doesn’t generate his heat by being a threat to the baby faces he doesn’t need to be as credible. Santino has been used to further a lot of storylines and has even been pinned by girls a few times. This always gets a huge crowd reaction and because Santino’s heat is generated through comedy these loses don’t hurt his appeal or value to the company.

The comedic heel is also a nice change of pace on a show. Vince often calls the WWE a variety show and that is probably a very good description. People watch wrestling for a lot of different reasons. Some like the technique, some like the violence, some like the women, some like the laughs. If you have 2 hard hitting violent matches on a show you don’t want them back-to-back. Fans can burn out from too much of the same thing. A comedy match between two heavier matches gives the crowd a nice break from the action and can also highlight the other matches by making them look more violent in contract to the comedy.

There is one down side to being the comedic heel however; you will never really be a Main Eventer. Because of their comedic nature comedic heels don’t have much credibility and are never taken very seriously. The thought process is that the serious battle over the World Title draws the money, and the comedy act is just part of the entertainment. Comedic heels aren’t going to be World Champions because comedic heels seldom win matches. Playing the part of the comedic jackass can get you great crowd reactions and does make your baby face look good, but you are in a position where if you beat the baby face, he’s being beaten by an idiot and pretty much gets buried in the process.

Very few baby faces lose programs to comedic heels and the comedic heel role is one designed to get the opponent over. The comedic heel role is a valuable one and there is good job security in it, but you need to be prepared to lose a lot of matches and pretty much accept that you will never main event.

I will never pay to see Santino Marella wrestle; he does not as they say, “draw money”. He is however one of the best comedic heels this business has ever seen. I look forward to seeing him every week on RAW, and find him more entertaining than ½ the guys on the show. He is not the reason I tune in to watch the show but one of the many reasons I’m happy I’ve watched when it’s over. That is the roll of the comedic heel and Santino Marella does it perfectly.

Lance Storm