Double act  

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A double act, also known as a comedy duo, is a comic device in which humor is derived from the uneven relationship between two partners, usually of the same gender, age, ethnic origin, and profession, but drastically different personalities. Often one of them, the straight man, feed or stooge is portrayed as reasonable and serious, and the other one, the funny man or comic is portrayed as funny, unintelligent or unorthodox. When a woman is in the "straight man" role, she is more often referred to as a comic foil. The term feed comes from the way a straight man will set up jokes for - or "feed" them to - their partner.

Despite the names given to the roles, the "straight man" need not necessarily be humorless, and it is not always the comic who provides the act's humor. Sometimes, it is the straight man who gets the laughs through his or her sarcastic reactions to the comic's antics, as was often the case with Stewart Lee's deadpan, reasoned reactions to Richard Herring's more ridiculous antics in their pairing.

Most often, however, the humor in a double act comes from the way the two personalities play off each other rather than the individuals themselves; in many successful acts the roles are interchangeable. It is no coincidence therefore that double acts are usually portrayed as close friends and that the comedians are often close in real life. However, tensions could often lead to the pairings falling out - Dudley Moore ended his partnership with Peter Cook by walking out on the final Derek and Clive recording, and Tommy Cannon and Bobby Ball, at the height of their success, did not speak to each other off stage - though the respective pairings later repaired their relationships. Similarly, American duo Abbott and Costello ended their career despising each other, as did British acts Rob Newman and David Baddiel and brothers Mike and Bernie Winters.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Double act" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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