This article analyses the use of proverbs in the American version of the sitcom The Office, especially in relation to Michael Scott, the show’s main protagonist. The purpose of the study is to explore the possibilities of proverbs as a comedic device and the use that scriptwriters make of paremiology for the portrayal of fictional characters. The case of Michael Scott is paradigmatic for these two approaches because, apart from being the protagonist of one of the most influential comedies in the last two decades, he exemplifies a creative use of paremiology through which he often modifies existing proverbs or invents proverb-like statements to support his ideas, rather than reciting proverbs in their canonical wording. As can be inferred, the intention of these paremiological practices is to make the audience laugh. From this analysis, we can draw the conclusion that scriptwriters deliberately include non-canonical proverbs in Michael’s speech for the humorous possibilities that they offer. Consequently, this procedure determines Michael’s characterisation in a way that relates to the traditional incongruity theory of humour. Finally, this paper intends to contribute to the establishment of a trend in current proverb scholarship that studies paremias for their comedic uses in modern media and to the dismissal of the widespread idea that they are not relevant in today’s society.
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