Comic Relief

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charlie-brown-hockey-stickWhenever I think of “Saved by the Bell” I feel a shiver run down my spine. When watching almost any daytime television show, I feel a nauseous sentiment of wasting my time, and with this show in particular I feel extremely ill.

Instead of running away from uncomfortable feelings like that, I’ve been chasing them down over the past few years and allowing them to teach me more about myself. So I went for it: I watched some of the original Saved by the Bell episodes, then Saved by the Bell The College Years, then Saved by the Bell Behind The Scenes, and even read bits and pieces of books mentioning the show.

What I figured out was big. Very unexpected. I was programmed to be Screech!screechThe comic relief character who was a sort of autistic computer genius who was a complete idiot when it came to anything tangible, emotional, or communicative. I looked further and found that I identified with comic relief characters across the board:

•Snarf Snarf (from Thundercats)


•Kramer (from Seinfeld)


•Chuckie (from Rugrats)chuckie

•Michaelangelo (from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)michaelangelo

•Bart/Homer Simpson (from the Simpsons)homer_bart

•The Genie (from Aladdin)Genie

•JarJar Binks (Ouch – from Star Wars)jarjar

•Baloo (from The Jungle Book)Baloo_the_bear

•Thumper (from Bambi)


•Timon and Pumba (from The Lion King)


•Charlie Brown (from Peanuts)


•Bullwinkle (from Rocky and Bullwinkle)

(here’s a great video about a man with a stutter, inherited from Bullwinkle)Bullwinkle

So what do all of these characters have in common? They’re all inherently trapped in some way. They can’t get away from people they don’t like, or they don’t have enough time to party, or they can’t find what they’re looking for, or they just see themselves as generally weak. So, are kids identifying with popular media in an unhealthy way? What’s going on here? Let’s explore further.

The fact of the matter is – all of these characters are in situations where there is a common truth (because that’s just how life works). They were simply blinded to the common truth. My unique situation is that I was primed by my upbringing to also be blinded to this common truth. It’s often called “playing dumb” in order to shirk responsibility.

One might see this through the lens of “archetypes”. An archetype, in this context, is a universal behavorial pattern found in all humans. For a strong character, it might be the archetype of the warrior or the caretaker. For the characters mentioned in this artice it would more likely be the Jester or the Orphan – both of whom see themselves as trapped in roles where their only resources are disarming others through jokes, complaints, and other types of self-pity.

I decided that it was time for a change. It may sound silly, but I learned to actually feel the pain of Snarf Snarf! I allowed myself to feel what Screech feels. I understood what Michaelangelo had to go through, spending a whole day without having fun. Allowing myself to embody the mindset of these characters helped me to better understand the parts of myself that felt similarly trapped in my own life.

Now that I’ve been through this process, the key is to continue in an empowered way. These things I’ve learned are now assets – skills that used to be weaknesses. This is the process of transmutation – bringing to light that which is dark. I am so thankful for these characters, and for my upbringing, because now I can help others who, too, unnecessarily see themselves as trapped.

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Joshua Falcon-Grey

Co-Founder/Program Director and Creativity Leadership Trainer at True Participation
Joshua is a filmmaker and artist creating new ways in which story and technology can be combined toward healing experiences for a better world. He enjoys public/comedic speaking as well as providing personal, business branding, and relationship coaching. More info can be found on his personal site.

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