Putting it simply, camp is extravagant and Jack McFarland from Will and Grace is nothing if not extravagant!
Here are 12 minuets of pure Jack: (I’m sorry the quality is so horrible, apparently NBC has been cracking down and removing a lot of Will and Grace clips from youtube. Even with the poor quality, I think these clips do a great job of showing how Jack’s character is an example of camp).
This clip contrasts the actions and appearances of Will and Jack. Susan Sontag writes, “The hallmark of Camp is the spirit of extravagance. Camp is a woman walking around in a dress of three million feathers” (Sontag, 7). Jack is definitely over the top in terms of his gestures and in some instances his clothing. For example, in the above clip–his drawn out sigh and dramatic fall to the couch and in the first link he consistently makes extravagant hand gestures.
Dress is another area where Jack’s camp is expressed. Generally, Will is conservatively dressed in sweaters and suits while Jack’s attire is usually more intricate and sometimes even frilly. Additionally, Richard Dyer writes, “And camp is not masculine. By definition, camping about is not butch. So camp is a way of being human, witty, and vital, without conforming to the drabness and rigidity of the hetero male role” (Dyer, 49). Jack does not conform to any male norms as is seen in the first video (the long one) where he is cooking and singing–two traits that are stereotypically feminine. And finally, while the entire show is a comedy and all the characters exist to make you laugh, Jack is the character whose basically sole purpose is to illicit laughs. Sontag writes, ” The whole point of camp is to dethrone the serious. Camp is playful, anti-serious. More precisely, Camp involves a new, more complex relation to ‘the serious.'” (Sontag, 10). Will is a pretty serious character–he takes his work and relationships very seriously while Jack isn’t–he is playful, silly, extravagant, and funny. So while Will’s funny moments stem from his seriousness, Jack’s are constant and a result of his extravagance; his camp.