Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Stop Trying To Be Funny

You can always tell someone who is still new to improv: they try desperately to be funny. They go for the laugh. They do outrageous things. They try to tell jokes.

The trouble with doing all that, besides it NOT being funny, is that it's really hard to do that and listen to what your fellow performers are also doing. To build on the work of others you've got to listen, to pay attention, to accept and build on what they're doing. Involving yourself by writing an elaborate script will feel more like a wall between you and the audience, leaving nothing but cheap gags to try to rescue it. Cheap gags will not rescue you.

The funniest people are those trying desperately NOT to be funny. They live thru stuff that would aggravate us but on someone else it seems oddly funny. Every act, every nuance, every pause and every word works to avoid the situation that strikes us as funny. Not to be funny, but to escape the humor. And that is funny.

The next time you catch yourself trying to be funny, convert that to a reaction of what your character would really do in an attempt to avoid the absurdity. That will be much funnier, and feel better, too.

-- doug smith

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