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Sunday, January 9, 2011

It's Time to Get Serious...about Comedy

Why do we laugh?

What makes us cringe and move to help when we see someone fall down hard, but then causes us to split our ribs as we see almost the identical thing on America's Funniest Home Videos?

Context is certainly part of it.  Timing's another.  But I think the most important thing is the little bit extra.

Talking about the example I gave above, the little bit extra is the humorous (or sometimes not so humorous) voice-over, the over-the-top music, or the cartoonish audio stings inserted.  In each instance, we're not just seeing the raw footage, which would be as likely to induce a gasp of sympathy as it would to elicit a hearty guffaw.

So, what does this mean to us?  What it means is that we've got to get serious about our study of comedy.  Find actors whose comedic work you admire and pick it apart.  Study it for timing, for set-up and pay-off, but ultimately, study it for that little bit extra.

With comedians like Robin Williams, the little bit extra is typically WAY extra.  It's out front and present.  With someone like Andy Kaufman, the little bit extra was occasionally so tiny that most of the audience didn't see it.  The reaction was many times out and out anger instead of laughter.

Study improv.  A lot.  Not only does improv help us find those beautiful, unexpected moments in our acting, it also allows us to do the thing that gives most actors the night sweats.  Act without a script.  And guess what, guys?  So many commercial auditions are lacking in one actual script with lines.  You learn to improv well, and those jobs can be yours.  Oh, one other thing improv does well:  helps us find the funny.

Because for all that's been said here, your inner comedian is different from everyone else's.  Finding your own comedic voice is as much a part of the process as learning the rule of three.

For those of you that don't know what the rule of three is, or who just want to take that next step on the road to comedy, join me this Thursday at 8 pm Pacific Standard Time for my radio show.  Take a second now to go and set yourself a reminder, give my show a "favorite" or leave a comment.  And give me a call while we're live.  I promise, it's SO much fun!  And if you're liking what you hear, go outside your financial comfort zone and DONATE! Just a buck or two makes a world of difference and would allow us to go back up to the hour-long format.  C' know you want to... :)

I do have to say, what I offer here pales in comparison to what you get in my online classes.  They're so don't have to leave your house!  And they totally work.  So if you're interested, sign up above, or email me at actingwithoutthedrama (at) gmail (dot) com for more info.

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