Finding the Fool- Natalya Kahmann

For my undergraduate degree, I wrote an essay where I compared the similarities between two crime-fighting characters:  Tony DiNozzo from NCIS and Shawn Spencer from Psych.  In that essay, I characterized these two men as ‘the handsome male character’ and went on further to explain other similarities.  Some of them include the fact they love themselves, they reference movies a lot and they are amazing at their job, but in a unique way.  However, I would like to compare them in a different way. Currently, I have been reading ’45 Master Characters’ by Victoria Lynn Schmidt.[1]  In this book, she names 18 archetype characters.  Eight of them are male and the rest female.  While reading, I came to chapter 14 titled, ‘Hermes:  The Fool and the Derelict’, which reminded me of the essay.  I highlighted and underlined all the traits that Tony and Shawn possess and I must say that these two are indeed the fools of their television programs.  After this, I decided to go in to more depth about the similarities between these two TV heroes.

First, the biggest clue that Tony and Shawn are the archetypal fool was one of the first lines of the chapter.  It reads, ‘The Fool is a man who is still a boy inside.  He won’t grow up..[2]  These men fit that description perfectly.  Tony DiNizzo’s coworkers constantly tell him to grow up.  He plays pranks on them and makes them feel uncomfortable.  Shawn is very similar.  In the very first episode, Shawn tells a waitress that he is never growing up.  Then the rest of the show displays that truth.  He’d rather play than work and when he does work, it’s all a game to him.  He sees himself as the puppet master, manipulating everyone around him.  The only times these men don’t act like boys are when they are driving, they realize a situation is more serious than normal, and around women.

The next clue that proves that Tony and Shawn are the Fool is what they care about.  In the book, Schmidt has created a list of what the Fool cares about and what they fear (which we will discuss next).  I will only use one example from each list.  However, if you pick up the book (which you should), the examples listed in there continue to describe these men.  The one point I will discuss is ‘[t]he Fool cares about his freedom…He’s always looking for the next adventure.’[3]  In Psych, Shawn rides a motorcycle, which he states is an extension of his freedom to go where he wants and not to be tied down to any one place.  In NCIS, Tony always begs for the assignments that take him to anywhere with a beach or could double as a vacation for him.  He also doesn’t like to be tied down, which is evident by his many dates and one night stands with various women.  Another point to add is both of them consider their crime solving jobs as a daily adventure, which is why they stay at their jobs for so long.

Finally, the other point I’d like to make about the Fool is his fears.  Besides the fear of losing his freedom, the Fool ‘fears boredom; he’ll come up with a way to amuse himself with a rubber band if that’s all he has.’[4]  Tony will fling a rubber band at his coworkers or waste paper just to use it as a ball for trashcan basketball.  When he isn’t throwing things, he’s on his computer playing a game or trying to meet women online.  Shawn will take all of that a step further and go looking or creating crimes for them to solve because he is so bored.

In conclusion, Shawn Spencer and Tony DiNizzo are the archetypal fool.  They act like children,  want their freedom, and they hate being bored.  I think their coworkers would have already told us that in a heartbeat, but it’s neat to figure out how they are the fool for yourself.  So, next time you watch a TV show or watch a movie, see if you can find the Fool and tweet at us @monsterNTU who it was.  If you know of one already, tweet us your favorite.  It’d be great to see.

[1]  Victoria Schmidt, 45 Master Characters (Ohio: Writer’s Digest Books, 2012).

[2] Victoria Schmidt, 45 Master Characters (Ohio: Writer’s Digest Books, 2012), pp. 111.

[3] Victoria Schmidt, 45 Master Characters (Ohio: Writer’s Digest Books, 2012) pp.112.

[4] Victoria Schmidt, 45 Master Characters (Ohio: Writer’s Digest Books, 2012) pp. 113.