Thursday, April 7, 2011

In it for the laughs

I think it'd be neat to go around and talk about the reasons people do improv. It doesn't necessarily have to be your reasons, in fact it can be your opinion on common reasons or why you think most people are in it.

For example, I don't like it when people say they are in any form of comedy (Sketch, Improv, Stand-up) because they "Like making people laugh." That can be a side reason, sure. We're all a bunch of insecure jokesters who want that sweet sweet laughter to make us feel important and in control. "Ha, I got that laugh out of you." But my point is that anyone who has the sole drive of making people laugh is going to, at one point or another, ruin a perfectly good laughless scene because they don't hear that laughter. God forbid you make people feel an emotion or create something that's funny in a manner other than laughing out loud. Or a line that doesn't quite sing and put the audience in stitches, guess I should go for the easy laugh by hitting myself in the nuts and saying something in a funny accent.

Personally, I like comedy because it touches every facet of the human experience. Even unfunny people use jokes to say things that they're too awkward to be direct about. Comedy is an artform to tell people truths they don't want to think about when they're in a bad mood. So you put them in a good mood but also get them thinking about that thing they don't want to think about. They see your opinion on the matter, they had a good laugh, but (hopefully) they don't walk out thinking "Oh man, did you hear that guy talk after he got hit in the nuts?"

I don't think every scene has to have a message to it, but I think our characters can have informed opinions and be real people with voices that want to be heard, rather than vehicles for some dumb joke. And for all you laugh-whores out there, remember: You'll never achieve a better reaction than a video of a laughing baby.

Why did you get into comedy?


  1. I couldn't agree more Ben. Comedy takes reality and makes it absurd, yet helps us understand reality better.

    Here's another reason I like doing comedy: I'm good at it and can still get better. I find it really enjoyable to master different skills. I like improv because it's fairly easy to do decent, but difficult to do great. I try and take on that challenge every time.

  2. Agree with you, Ben, and Harrison. I love improv.

    I like it for two reasons. First, it's fun. I enjoy being able to be silly, to play characters, to make fun of situations or people, to break out of the 'normal' discourse we have throughout the day.

    Second, each show is a new challenge. Each audience is different, and each show is different. When I walk onstage, I've done nothing to deserve the laughs, but by the first few lines, I've earned 'em (or I haven't....eeeek!) and the audience is having a great time. I love knowing that what I've just made up has made their night awesome. (This goes for duos and ensembles.)

  3. More on this: Tina Fey says in her fabulous book Bossypants, "Men are in comedy to break rules. Conversely, the women I know in comedy are all good daughters, good citizens, mild-mannered college graduates. Maybe we women gravitate toward comedy because it is a socially acceptable way to break rules and release from our daily life."

    That's what I was thinking in my first point. Socially acceptable way for me to play pretend and break rules.

  4. I do it because it is the most fun I can have on a regular basis. First and foremost it is fun! I think allot of comedians go down the drain when they stop having fun. As Jill Bernard told me one time, "If you burn out and it isn't fun...QUIT. Take a break and do something else and as soon as you are ready jump back into it." (that is a direct quote for those wondering...i wrote it down as soon as she said it).

    However I am not afraid to admit that I do genuinely enjoy making people laugh. Not in the way that Ben mentioned because I completely agree that if you are just trying to make someone laugh than you don't get it. I think it is human nature to want to make people happy. As comedic artists it is our goal to use comedy as a medium to make people feel happy (or in some cases a wide variety of emotion). That is the definition of art...a medium to convey a statement, story or emotion.

    So, Ben, I like making people laugh! (Did you chuckle at that?)