Showrunner Raphael Bob-Waksberg on His Favorite Sitcom Characters
"I got a little overexcited here…I ended up compiling a list of my Top 9 Greatest Sitcom Characters of all time. It's a bit much, I know, but…there are so many good ones out there! So I took a look back at sitcoms from the beginning of the form to the more experimental things you'd see today, and this is what I came up with."
"Number one has to be: Danny Tanner from Full House. He just gives a master class in how to set up jokes, and it never seems like he has to hog the spotlight. A comic genius. In the hands of a lesser performer, the character just wouldn't work."
"My number two choice: Stephanie Tanner from Full House. What can I say about Jodi Sweetin and this character that dozens of other pundits haven't already said? The quintessential sister role. When you start with the show, she's a kid; by the end, she's an adult. So listen up, Boyhood, don't go thinking you're so special. Maybe if I hadn't seen Full House first, I'd be more impressed with Boyhood."
"Number three: Jesse Katsopolis from Full House. Look, there's lots of stuff for the kids here, and shenanigans for the dads — but John Stamos is a little bone they're throng to the moms here. And a top-notch comedian: You watch any episode where Stamos says "Have mercy," and he gets a laugh every time. Every. Time. I don't know how the man does it."
"Number four: Jesse Cochran, as played by John Stamos on the show Full House. In the first season, of course, the character is named Jess Cochran, then he eventually starts going by Jesse Katsopolis. I don't know if we're supposed to think this is the same Uncle Jesse, or if Danny had two brother-in-laws, each named Jesse but with different names. It's a riddle for the ages. I just don't want your readers to think I only liked Jesse during the Katsopolis years. Think of the letters you'd get!"
"Number five of the greatest sitcom characters of all time: Cousin Stavros, played by John Stamos on the show Full House. He was Jesse's Greek cousin, and stayed with the family for a while and hit on Aunt Becky. I would kill to have been a fly on the wall in the writer's room: 'Guys, you know what we need? A character who can out-Jesse Jesse!' I'd heard that showrunner Jeff Franklin actually wrote a spin-off for Cousin Stavros that was very similar to Lou Grant, but ABC killed the idea at the last minute. The world wasn't ready."
"Number six: Gia, played by Marla Sokoloff on Full House. She was the secret weapon of ABC in the Nineties: She did episodes of Step By Step, Boy Meets World, The Practice. But if you want the full uncut Sokoloff experience, watch the eight episodes of Full House she did. It's…there are no words. She is the dark, dark heart of Full House."
"Number seven: Michelle Tanner from Full House, as played by Mary-Kate Olsen. You know, Mary-Kate Olsen never asked to play Michelle; she was born into it. She was not a trained actress at the time…she was, in fact, a baby. But you really get a sense of her hopes, her dreams, her loves and her loss. Ashley Olsen'se version of Michelle was good, but I'm not sure it would make my top 10. Top 150 characters, maybe, after the ensemble of Wings. But not the top 10. No way."
Rolling Stone: So wait: You said this was a top 9 list, right? Are there even 9 characters in Full House?
"Well, they're not all Full House characters, man. This is the Greatest Sitcom Characters of All Time list. Don't be ridiculous."
Rolling Stone: Okay. Sorry. Go on.
"Number eight: Jesse Katsopolis from Hangin' With Mr. Cooper, as played by John Stamos. He showed up for a one scene cameo on that show, as Uncle Jesse. But that one scene was all he needed to make you get Jesse Katsopolis. I don;t even remember the names of the other actors on that show. He was that good."
"And finally, number nine, it's the inimitable Joey Gladstone, played by Dave Coulier on Full House. He's the unsung hero of that show — a stand-up comedian with an ocean of sadness running underneath his laughter. I don't know if he invented the sad-clown archetype, but he certainly perfected it. There's a real irony going on there…in fact, I'm pretty sure Alanis Morrisette's 'Ironic' is based on Dave Coulier. Everyone thinks it's that other song. No, it's actually 'Ironic.'"