15 Comedy Second Bananas Who Deserve More Credit
Who was Jerry Seinfeld without George Costanza? Rick without Morty? Michael Scott without Dwight K. Shcrute? Second bananas are the Assistants to the Regional Manager of comedy — the supporting players who are rarely in the spotlight but who make invaluable contributions to general hilarity and quarterly sales quotas. Here are 15 comedy second bananas who deserve your love…
Cal Naughton Jr.
If we’re being honest, Ricky Bobby didn’t deserve a friend like Cal Naughton Jr., a guy who would let a pal slingshot to victory in exchange for a little recognition and a slap on the back. Cal ascends to lead dog status at one point in Talladega Nights but it never feels right, even to him. He’s meant to be a supporting player but don’t sell him short — there’s no Shake without the Bake.
Do you know how hard it is to steal scenes from Nic Motherfuking Cage? Kick-Ass producers were afraid Hit-Girl’s ultraviolent scenes would turn off audiences. “We were expecting the worst — that people were going to say she was amoral and we were going to get killed for her,” confessed writer Mike Millar to MovieFreak. “But it was much more of a case where people were positive about Hit-Girl, even saying she was an empowering female character.” (She was also hilarious.)
Probably the best argument for A.I. in comedy is Geoff Peterson, the riotous robot skeleton who served as second banana on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Geoff was upgraded several times after his introduction, including the crucial implementation of a wise-ass chip in the summer of 2010. The improvements continued until he was able to act as The Late Late Show’s on-site correspondent for award show red-carpet events. Geoff Peterson set the standard for all future gay robot sidekicks… in your pants!
The younger Banks was more than just the Carlton Dance, although that swag alone would have been enough to earn him a spot here.
Carlton was the peanut butter to the Fresh Prince’s jelly, the funniest conservative Republican on this or any list. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air originally intended to focus on the friction between Will and Uncle Phil, but Carlton’s dorky charisma forced a reconsideration of the show’s true second banana.
The conceit of WandaVision is that its main characters are living out the lives of classic sitcom characters, a goofy existence that is continually goosed by the appearances of nosy neighbor Agatha Harkness. Aside from being exquisite comic relief, Agatha would play a larger role as the series progressed. She even gets her own Munsters-inspired sitcom song. (Don’t watch if you haven’t seen WandaVision and are a spoiler avoider.)
Jerry Gergich (may or may not be his real name) is the second banana of second bananas — not a Ron Swanson or April Ludgate or Tom Haverford but a comic foil to even those Parks and Rec secondary characters. Sad sacks don’t get much sadder, but Jerry’s constant humiliations are our delight. Ha ha ha — Jerry’s butt is shaped like a cube! See how fun that is?
The best singer in Tasmania gave herself a derogatory nickname so that twig bitches didn’t do it behind her back. Maybe not the best singer in the Bellas and maybe not the best dancer, but Fat Amy flat-out crushes just about every Pitch Perfect aca-scene she’s in. “In any other film, she’d be picked on or made fun of,” says Time Out. “Here, she’s the coolest woman in the room.”
Rob Gordon is the main dude at Championship Vinyl, the record store at the center of High Fidelity. But who would want to buy music from that mope when Barry Judd is on the scene? He’s the whirling dervish with special Monday morning mix tapes to bring sunshine into everyone’s lives. Sure, he shows up every day even when he’s not on the schedule, but that just demonstrates Barry’s commitment to the groove.
Bridesmaids is populated by the funniest women on the planet, all of whom are blown out of the water by sister-of-the-groom Megan. Is anyone else bummed that no one followed Megan’s suggestion that the ladies grease up and do Female Fight Club as the bachelorette party? Say what you want, but Megan would make one hell of an air marshal.
Hey now! Larry Sanders’ chrome-domed sidekick deserves a spot in the Second Banana Hall of Fame. And if you’ve heard that he’s a talentless fat fuck, be aware that assessment is not entirely accurate.
A clueless broadcaster out of the Ted (Mary Tyler Moore Show) Baxter school, Bill McNeal took it up a notch with his nostalgically cheerful readings of heartbreaking news. If Dave Nelson was the superego that kept WNYX in check, McNeal was its loud, obnoxious id, cold-representing his love for Rocket Fuel Malt Liquor. Dammmmmnnnnn.
Everyone is generically perfect in Barbieland, with the notable exception of out-of-kilter Weird Barbie. Never destined to be a main character, Weird Barbie is the perfect second banana to the doctors, gymnasts and astronauts who populate that pink paradise. You know you’re the perfect comic foil to Stereotypical Barbie when you have a horny eye for Ken and you smell like basement.
An uptight comedy producer needs plenty of wild cards to loosen her up, and no card is wilder than Tracy Jordan. Sure, he’s a prima donna but when you’re the star of The Girlie Show, don’t you deserve to be? While 30 Rock is full of smart humor, Jordan balances the scales with the smart-dumb. “Cornell commencement address? Sorry, but Tracy Jordan doesn’t do safety schools.”
Peter Parker is an overly serious nerd, so he needs a happy-go-lucky pal like Ned Leeds to keep his emo in check. It also helps to have a friend who realizes just how amazing Parker’s life has become: “You’re Spider-Man! From YouTube!” Admit it: If your best friend was an Avenger, you’d be pumped too.
Yeah, this list is bookended with John C. Reilly roles. Got a problem with that? Since appendages don’t count as second bananas, Boogie Nights’ Dirk Diggler needs a running mate and Reed Rothchild is just the reasonably endowed man for the job. Sure, there’s a little jealousy at first but the two guys have too much in common — working out, rock and roll, multiple viewings of Star Wars — to not become best friends. Rothchild also stars as Chest Rockwell, second banana to Diggler’s Brock Landers in the porno masterpiece Angels Live in My Town. High five!