Why Andre Braugher Was So Good at Being Funny


Summary

  • Andre Braugher was a versatile actor who excelled in both dramatic and comedic roles, surprising audiences with his comedic talent.
  • Braugher’s portrayal of Captain Raymond Holt in Brooklyn Nine-Nine showcased his ability to bring depth and complexity to a seemingly unemotional character.
  • Braugher’s comedic performances left a lasting legacy and proved that actors should not be confined to a single type of role.


Andre Braugher passed away this week, and there has been an outpouring of support from family and friends. Braugher was an actor beloved by both cast mates and audiences alike. However, for a man well-known for his dramatic roles, it surprised many when he shifted to comedy.

Braugher was admired for being a consummate actor. This meant that he could get into any role put in front of him. For him, conquering comedy was just another stepping stone on his path. So what was it that made him so good?


Andre Braugher Delivers an Acting Masterclass

When people think of Andre Braugher, they often think of his two most iconic television roles: Detective Frank Pembleton on Homicide: Life on the Streets and Captain Raymond Holt on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Although both roles were police-centric, they could not have diverged more.

The role of Frank Pembleton was originated by Braugher in 1993 and won him multiple awards, including one Emmy for Outstanding Leading Actor. Braugher’s performance is seen as the breakout role of the show’s run. His no-nonsense direction and sense of right and wrong were admired by audiences for six seasons.

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When it came time to cast the Holt character on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Braugher could take his work on procedural dramas and strip the characters of all humor to create the ideal and almost robotic Captain. From the outset, it seemed a strange role for him, but it would prove to be a new phase of his career that would shape how an entire generation would see him.

Raymond Holt Was in the Best Hands With Andre Braugher

One of the key aspects of Captain Raymond Holt is that he is unflinchingly dour. His entire personality is that he seems to not have one at all. However, Braugher is able, over time, to give us glimpses into the life of this enigmatic captain. We learn that he is gay, happily married, and is driven by his job. He loves his team but does not allow them the pleasure of seeing his every emotion. The character is a father figure to many of his staff but absently withholds affection simply because he doesn’t always realize his power.

Braugher explained the character to Variety, “Holt is a really, really wonderful character, but I think in anybody else’s hands, it might have been something foolish, something silly.” This thought process gives true insight into a character whose rich backstory only comes out in drips and drabs.

Each time something is revealed, both the audience and characters scramble to hear it. Holt reminds us that people do not need to drop constant one-liners to be funny. In fact, his co-star, Andy Samberg, who plays Detective Jake Peralta, is his complete opposite. Samberg himself is known as a goofy guy, and his character is constantly butting heads with Captain Holt simply because they are so wildly different.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine gave Braugher a place to surprise audiences. Everyone had seen him in dramatic roles both on TV and in film. There were not many surprises. If we needed a dour general to deliver bad news (Fantastic Four) or a supportive but hard-nosed editor (She Said), then Braugher was your guy. But in almost all of these cases, he was without mirth. However, nearly every actor who has worked with him speaks of his kindness and humor. Braugher had been typecast, and it was paying the bills. But, like any other actor, he wanted to stretch his legs and have some fun.

Braugher Left a Lasting Legacy

Many actors are known for their characters. In very few cases, we get to know people in the same way as their family and friends. In the case of Andre Braugher, the idea that everyone would remember him for his dramatic roles was fine, but to see his full personality was even better.

After finding his comedy feet in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, he also branched out into shows such as BoJack Horseman, where he voiced Governor Woodchuck Coodchuck-Berkowitz, who was a Holt-like character that was also no-nonsense but who also faced criticism for not wanting to participate in a ski race against Mr. Peanutbutter (although he was incredibly prepared). That last sentence seems like a fever dream compared to Braugher’s early career. And yet he made it all work.

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Comedy can be difficult, exceptionally so. But for someone of Braugher’s caliber, whose work has extended from stage to the big screen, it was another challenge. Actors are not meant to be kept in a mold, though many often find themselves forced into them. Braugher showed everyone that even after twenty-four years of dramatic acting, a true actor can find it in themselves to step outside their comfort zones and create something new and interesting for their audiences.

The role of Detective Holt won Braugher dozens of nominations and multiple Critics’ Choice Awards. He was a shining star on a show filled with certified comedians and comedy actors. Yet his presence alone made the show funnier. Dead-pan humor is often lost on audiences, but in the case of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Holt stood out as the sore thumb that people couldn’t get enough of.

Braugher’s death came too early, and we will never know what roles could have emerged for him as his career continued. However, with his most well-known and well-loved roles on such different ends of the spectrum, he definitely did something very right.



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