Tuesday, November 11, 2008

There is no try...

I don't know if it was Yoda or Mr. Miyagi who said something to the effect of, "there is no try, there is only do or do not." Regardless, it applies to improv comedy and the art of being funny.

Trying to make people laugh doesn't work.

Let me explain. Something about trying to make people laugh means that there's an insecurity somewhere in there; an insecurity that says, "please laugh at me, please, please." I'm reminded of a roommate I had once who laughed after everything he said, and most of it wasn't funny. But, because he was nervously laughing, I felt obliged to laugh. I never really felt good after being forced to laugh.

Trying to make people laugh in improv comedy is kind of like laughing after your own jokes--it's pretty obvious what you're trying to do, and even though people might laugh, they'll feel kind of weird about it.

Let me be clear. I'm not saying improvisers can't:
  • be funny
  • be clever
  • do funny things
  • be weird
What I am saying is this: improvisers cannot project to the audience that their self-esteem and self-concept rides on whether or not people laugh at their performance (that instantly kills any funny left in the room). Instead, they need to have a nonchalance about them that says, "I don't care whether or not people laugh, sometimes they will and sometimes they won't."

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