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Jim Parsons' Sheldon Cooper Is The Best Character In Half A Century Of Comedy

Updated on March 16, 2011

When Jim Parsons walked off the stage with the latest Emmy for Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, it was not only a confirmation of his personal talent, but also a cathartic experience for the nerds and non-nerds around the nation which have made The Big Bang Theory such a massive hit.

Was Parsons' Emmy merited? Let it suffice to say that if we look at the august company which he has now joined, which includes some legendary names such as:

Red Skelton, Donald O' Connor, Danny Thomas, Sid Caesar, Dick Van Dyke, Carroll O'Connor, Alan Alda, Tony Randall, John Ritter, Michael J. Fox, Burt Reynolds, Kelsey Grammer and John Lithgow

...we find that although it can be argued that his stratospheric comedy achievements are primarily character-based, as they were for Kelsey Grammer, John Ritter, Michael J. Fox, and Carroll O'Connor, they are clearly at the top of that group. No, Jim Parsons is not a multifaceted comedy fantasist in the range of Dick Van Dyke or Sid Caesar, but it is obvious to any fan of The Big Bang Theory that Parsons' character of Sheldon Cooper may just be the single most successful and "spot on" characterization since Carroll O'Connor shocked America by spewing racial bigotry epithets on All In The Family.

Since Parsons' previous work is rather sporadic, he did not arrive into America's consciousness as anything other than Sheldon Cooper: the infuriating, hyper intelligent, socially inept Vulcan sans pointy ears. Indeed Trekkies everywhere gasped in sheer paroxysms of ecstasy (yes... I remember you, Rick Berman...) when Sheldon donned the pointy ears, TOS blue shirt and wielded a tricorder as if he was born to do so. Indeed squared, some have claimed that Jim Parsons would have made a better movie Spock than Zachary Quinto. He may not be in Quinto's acting range when it comes time to show the seething anger which J. J. Abrams grafted onto a character who is supposed to be a logical and non-emotional alien, but he certainly handled the fundamental gangly goofiness which Leonard Nimoy integrated into his Spock in the more comical (and let's admit it) worst episodes of TOS, mostly in the third and largely forgettable season of NBC's first run back in the Stone Age.

The Big Bang Theory writers work every imaginable nerdgasmic moment into Sheldon Cooper's character, having him waltz around in full Flash costumes or his favorite Green Lantern T shirt while he drops nerdilicious references to sci-fi, fantasy, and comic book events which only the truly nerdconscious "get", and that's part of the impact which Sheldon Cooper has had on America. We are fascinated by how a man of his intelligence and education can't perform the simplest daily commonplace tasks and find it all side-splitting hilarious.

Although most Big Bang fans likely won't recognize the name, Jim Parsons harkens back to the first winner of that Emmy: Red Skelton. Red was possibly the most gifted overall comedian to ever grace a television screen and had the astounding ability to literally disappear within a character. Jim Parsons or any other living comedian cannot hope to ever touch the zenith of comedy perfection which were integral in Clem Kadiddlehopper, Cauliflower McPugg, or Mean Widdle Kid Junior, but Sheldon Cooper is most certainly the greatest comedy character since Red Skelton's wacky creations, and thus Jim Parsons deserves that Emmy and many more in the future.


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      Pamela Lipscomb 5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      I was a Johnny come lately to watching the Big Bang Theory. When I watched it, I was hooked. Jim Parsons is hilarious and the show wouldn't be the same without him. Sooo funny, and the writers have to be brilliant!