The “D’s” of COMEDY.
Actors are taught to find the character’s “intention” but in comedy it’s “heightened” intention to the point of desperation. The comedic actor isn’t just hungry, they are FAMISHED. They don’t sorta like chocolate they are CHOCOLATE FANATICS. They don’t sorta like a girl or boy, they are a TOTAL OBSESSIVE STALKER. They aren’t just bad at math, they are TOTAL FAILURES. They aren’t just a little sad, they are DEVASTATED!
This gives rise to what’s called “heightened anxiety” on their part, so they go “over the top” in their actions and speech.
Actors who play characters in comedy need to smash through their tendency to underplay the emotions and COMMIT TO HEIGHTENED ANXIETY and outwardly show their OBSESSION.
Because the character is committed to their intention, they almost ALWAYS resort to DECEPTION and they commit “little white lies” to get their way. As an acting coach, I like to have an actor search to find the character’s “SECRET” intention which usually VERY OBVIOUS, but for some reason, actors don’t always find it. Remember it’s not just a mild intention, it’s a full blown OBSESSION!
The character is obsessed with overcoming OBSTACLES!
That’s why in so many of the comedy scripts, teenage girls tell a lie to get their way. They are obsessed with some action, whether it’s making the cheer-leading squad to getting attention from a boy to ruining someone’s success. They are obsessed with overcoming obstacles, which seem “life or death” to a young person. “If I don’t go to the concert, I’ll just DIE!”.
The same with teenage (or younger) boys will commit actions to be more popular or impress a girl or make the team, etc. It’s “life or death” so any actions they choose to take are acceptable, even encouraged by their peers (in the scripts)
The writers have fun with this, and it’s up to the actor to find the HEIGHTENED ANXIETY about overcoming obstacles so they can play “BIG” and at the same time, make it an honest and visceral performance.
Just be REAL and JUST SAY THE WORDS. In this case “BEING REAL” is being committed to the character’s obsessions and allowing them to naturally affect your performance. Put their character on, just like you would put on a uniform, to become the character.
THE BIG DAY
Now, you put the character’s OBSESSION and their DECEPTION and put it on the “BIG DAY”. What’s the BIG DAY? If you watch any COMEDY episode, it’s always the “BIG DAY”. It’s someone’s birthday, it’s the big concert, it’s the day grades come out, it’s the last day of school, it’s the first day of school, it’s the big game, or the big dance, it’s ANY EVENT TO MAKE THE DAY SPECIAL.
So combine the Character’s INTENTION, their SECRET and their actions on the BIG DAY, and you’ll find clues to the comedy and the TIMING for the comedy.
GO BIG OR GO HOME!
Remember, there is nothing unreal or unnatural about going “big”. In my life, I’m around kids and teens all the time and I see them “over the top” when no one is watching. It’s up to the actor to find the MOTIVATION to really get inside their character to find the “BIG” in their performance.
It’s difficult and takes TONS OF PRACTICE…
Acting is a muscle, you have to work it out…..
If you take our classes at the Actorsite, you’ll learn the skills to GO BIG, NOT GO HOME!