Recently my student Edgar wrote: “I have an upcoming audition for a comedy, which seems a bit of a stretch for me, any suggestions for being less serious or should i not worry about this?”
Here’s what I wrote back:
My approach to comedy, in general anyway, is to use your own reactions but just highlight them a little bit or emphasize them a bit more. If you are chagrined, for instance, and you just “stay” chagrined for an extra second like a snapshot, it’s funny. If you just do it normally it’s serious. I like that kind of comedy that emphasizes character and highlights behavior, which looks funny when you examine it more closely. So just going fully and sharply with your own impulses does a pretty good job. If you are auditioning from a comedy script, the material will probably be funny, so all you have to do is “take it seriously” and “go with it.” What is not funny is someone attempting to be funny. It’s kind of an opposite kind of thing.
Example: take a look at Tony Randall on an old Odd Couple tv show – you can probably find one on youtube or hulu. What is funny about his behavior is that he overreacts to everything and that he takes himself so seriously. He’s not trying to be funny, he’s just nuts.