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Inside the Lightbox: Why Community’s Troy Barnes is the Funniest Character on Television

Voting for the Lightbox People’s Choice Awards is now open, so who should you vote for? Alex Casey argues the case for Community’s Troy Barnes.

Our good friends and sponsors at Lightbox are currently running their first People’s Choice Awards, where you can vote for the sexiest, funniest, most heroic and most evil television characters. In voting, you can not only win cool prizes, but also give your favourite characters the glory of winning one of these coveted categories. Last week we placed our early picks, but I’ve been reconsidering one in particular. Blame Magic Mike XXL, blame the full moon, blame my binge-watching of Community all weekend.

Community is a sitcom created by Dan Harmon, that follows a misfit group of students at Greendale Community College. Troy Barnes, played by Donald ‘Childish Gambino’ Glover, is a fallen college football star. Collapsing (literally, after breaking both legs doing a keg stand) under the pressure of his sporting position, Troy decides to attend Greendale after seeing a student do a thumbs up “in a cool way” during a commercial. It’s a classic Troy decision-making process, one that sets the bar for his charmingly naive brand of comedy to come.

At Greendale he forms one of the strongest TV friendships of all time with Abed, and secures his own special place in their motley study group. Where Abed provides the fast-talking meta-commentary, Troy remains bewildered in his consistently unfiltered responses. He’s not dumb, he just says everything everyone else wants to – but knows that they shouldn’t. Some might argue it’s a noble trait.

I think that Troy Barnes from Community is a worthy winner for the Funniest Character category. Why? Let me count the ways.

1) The Neverending Chloroform Ring

In the throes of a sophisticated intel heist, Troy and Abed find themselves caught red-handed. Luckily, with Annie holding a toxic cloth nearby, their intruder is pacified. Troy’s panicked reaction to seeing the passed-out man is akin to that of a three year old. Perfectly articulating how high stress situations can feel like the end of the world, he flaps his arms around whilst screaming “my whole brain is crying.”

2) The Spanish Rap

This iconic scene is the first ever tag during the Community credits. Abed and Troy, fresh out of Spanish, launch into the first of many improvised rap numbers. Disco spiders. Libraries. Cold Potatoes. It’s all you could ever want from a comedy rap.

3) Good Will Plumbing

The ‘Troy is a Gifted Plumber’ storyline is one that comes out of left field early on in the season. In an homage to Good Will Hunting, Troy finds himself casually pulling off highly technical acts of plumbing as if it was by divine power. A real spanner in the works, if you will.

4) Troy’s Animal Truths

Troy holds the belief very close to his heart that all dogs are male and all cats are female. “Have you ever seen a cat penis?” he yells. Well, have you?

5) Confessions

When injected with truth serum, Troy revealed his deepest secret. This is the first time I have heard someone say aloud that they struggled with Christopher Nolan’s dreamy layer-cake Inception. Thank you Troy, I didn’t really get it either.

6) Confessions Part ll

Another great point. Really makes you think.

7) Troy vs Ass Crack Bandit

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 1.32.34 pm

Community’s mysterious prankster the ‘Ass Crack Bandit’ wreaked havoc on the school, innocently placing pennies on the unsuspecting derrière of bent-over students. Troy was a victim of this heinous attack, and for the rest of the episode was traumatised, using only a wheelchair to navigate. Treating the matter with an insane level of reverence, you can’t help but laugh guiltily at Troy’s misfortune.

8) Troy and Abed in the Morning

From constantly setting up clips that doesn’t exist, to laughing the biggest, loudest fake laughs humanly possible, the faux-breakfast show Troy and Abed in the Morning is one of the pair’s more surreal endeavours. Infuriating their fellow students and fulfilling their television dreams, it’s what the Paul Henry show could have been.

9) Voicemail Woes

You leave a voicemail for someone and try to play it cool, but overcook it a bit. You call back, and appear to eager. It’s an excruciating exchange, and one that Troy brings to life in the longest, most scarily recognisable way.

10) Troy Holds Out For a Hero

We all have our anxieties about meeting our biggest heroes, and Troy is no different. In ‘Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking’ (S02E16), Levar Burton of Star Trek fame is summoned by Pierce to pay Troy a visit. It doesn’t go exceptionally well. “I asked him for a picture! You can’t disappoint a picture!” Troy screams. We’ve all been there, Troy just expresses his angst with more slightly more unhinged gusto.


Click here to vote in the Lightbox People’s Choice Awards, and go in the draw to win a trip to the set of Vikings, a 50” Panasonic Smart TV or one of ten Chromecasts.

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