Z is for zany, and Z is the last post in the A to Z Blog Challenge 2013! Reaching the end entitles the blogger to feel a bit zany, a bit like a clown ready to turn cartwheels, wear brightly colored costumes, and dance around in circles!
But before we call it the end, let’s take a look at the word “zany” and how it’s use in character development. It is possible that clowning around isn’t the only thing a zany can do!
1. ludicrously or whimsically comical; clownish.
2. one who plays the clown or fool in order to amuse others. 3. a comically wild or eccentric person. 4. a secondary stock character in old comedies who mimicked his master. 5. a professional buffoon; clown. 6. a silly person; simpleton. 7. a slavish attendant or follower.
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Dictionary.com provides many definitions of zany, including both adjective and noun. As you study the word “zany” and its definitions, note the connections it makes with other words we’ve talked about this month: Whimsical is part of the adjective definition, “whimsically comical,” and all the definitions under the noun group are reminiscent of the jocular.
We are all familiar with circus clowns, and
with the buffoons who entertain between acts at Cirque du Soleil.
But what if you’re not developing a character who is actually a circus clown or performer? A character who is an ordinary person who just happens to be someone who clowns around.
Your character here develops around the type of clown he or she is. For example, a buffoon, according to its definition, can be either a person who enjoys amusing with tricks, odd gestures and postures, and jokes OR a person who is “given to coarse and undignified joking. Here’s a photo from a Vancouver buffoonery workshop led by Trilby Jeeves, master of buffoonery.
Trilby’s website provides an overview of this type of buffoonery and an interesting tidbit on the history of buffoonery. From the site and this photo, you get a pretty good idea of what lengths someone will go to in order to be a buffoon!
The definition of a “comically wild or eccentric person” took me back to the sitcom Taxi and its cast of eccentric characters.
My favorite of them all was Christopher Lloyd (front row, right), who went on to play eccentric characters in Back to the Future and many other films and TV shows. His character was always oddly out of synchronicity with everyone else with a flair for eccentricities beyond the imagination. His speech pattern, demeanor and walk spoke comical eccentric before he ever opened his mouth.
Your eccentric comic or zany will have mannerisms different from the norm in such a way to make them seem comical to others. And perhaps their dress, hair or makeup will be similar in its deviation from the standard way of dress.
My hope is this brief overview of the word “zany” will be helpful. Amazingly, zany is the shortest word in the 26 and yet had the longest list of definitions. I could drag this out with more examples, but do not see the need.
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Note: I am traveling April 25th through 29th and will not have Internet access. I will respond to your comments as I can when I return.
Image attributions may be found by clicking on the image.