The New York times (February 10) article titled, “Panic in the locker room!” written by co-ed columnist Frank Bruni begins with the following sentence:

“A news flash for every straight man out there: You’ve been naked in front of a gay man. In fact you’ve been naked, over the course of your life, in front of many gay men, at least if you have more than a few years on you. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/11/opinion/bruni-panic-in-the-locker-room.html?hp&rref=opinion

To be honest, I didn’t know "straight man" has another meaning related with sexual orientation until I was told by members now. But let’s forget about that usage.

According to CED, the straight man is the more serious of the two men in a comedy act, who is often made to look stupid by his partner.

Merriam-Webster English Dictionary defines “straight man” a member of a comedy team who says things that allow a partner to make jokes."

We have a Japanese word, “ぼけ役- boke-yaku” meaning “bonehead’s role” for “straight man,” and “突っ込み役- tsukkomi-yaku” meaning “offence role” for the partner who gives a spicy joke / repartee in turn in popular popular “Manzai” – two-man comedy, or sometimes even in daily conversation.

What is the English word for the counter role of “straight man” as an English translation of “突っ込み-tsukkomi-yaku”?

  • 5
    The quote is not about members of a comedy team. It is contrasting normal, 'straight' sexuality to homosexuality.
    – Oldcat
    Commented Feb 11, 2014 at 0:55

3 Answers 3


But to answer the Question in the title, a comic pairing is known as a double act, and the one playing opposite the "straight man" may be known as "the funny man, banana man or comic."


The "straight man" in comedy is already the opposite word for the comedian. The straight man provides a known, serious quantity for the comedian to play off of in a comedic setting, and so the role of straight man is defined in opposition to the role of comedian, not the other way around.

However, here it's being used to mean heterosexual, as opposed to homosexual. It's an unrelated concept, and your only clue is the context, starting most literally with "You've been in front of a gay man...".

  • 1
    I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who wouldn't call Bud Abbott a comedian, but he was definitely the "Straight Man" in Abbott and Costello. So what was Lou Costello's role called?
    – user53089
    Commented Feb 11, 2014 at 2:36
  • Costello was the "funny guy". The guy with the funny lines.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 11, 2014 at 8:44
  • 1
    @rsegal.I’m a bit dubious of the answer that the word for the counterpart of ‘straightman’ in “two-man comedy” is just ‘comedian.’ CED defines the straight man as ‘the more serious one in a comedy act, who is often made to look stupid by his partner.’ Both one who make look the partner stupid and the other who is made to look stupid by partner are of course comedians. We know the latter is called straightman. Then what is the word for role of play or character of the former? We call the counterpart of pitcher a catcher, not a baseball player. Commented Feb 11, 2014 at 22:19

In US English it could be called the "lead" role or leading role. Perhaps "closer" could be used in certain settings as they deliver the punchlines and end the bits, generally.

The straight man sets the lead up to get laughs. "Stooge" was a term for straight man in the vaudeville era.

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    Commented Aug 13, 2021 at 8:35

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