From this article I learned about The Penny Problem and The Male Gaze. Specifically, it’s about the fine television comedy show from Chuck Lorre called “The Big Bang Theory.” Four nerds live across the hall from a lovely waitress. Much of the humor comes from her view (our view, if we were not nerds) of the warped nerd world.
Anyway, in the pilot, lovely waitress Penny had no good lines and a terrible part. Nowadays, she gets awesome zinger lines and Katey Cuoco gets to show off her comic timing, which I think is excellent. Here is a bit about the pilot episode.
This is, in maybe the most literal form in which you’ll ever see it, the male gaze. She exists relative to Leonard and Sheldon’s arrival home (just standing there reading a magazine in profile with the door open!), relative to their door, relative to their apartment. It’s a comedy, but it’s still true. This is it; this is the thing. This is the thing people talk about where she’s not really herself, she’s just the lady standing in the doorway.
More examples in the article, including video clips. Lessons to be learned here about how all the characters in your story can and should be important and have their own voice. Or, in the case of comedy, get a few of the good lines. Be good to your characters!