It’s said that comedy is harder to do than drama…and I agree. Not only do you need the skills that come from acting techniques (such as The 9 Questions of Intentional Acting), but you also need comedy skills. THEN you have to deliver the scene as if you’re using no technique and not acting. Acting is simple – but it’s not easy!
One way to make your comedy skills more seamless is to start with some improv. This is how I start all my kids’ classes and also what I use when a scene just isn’t working. But here’s what you need to know: I was one of those actors who had fear rush into my heart once I heard the word “improv.” I soon learned (both as an actor and a teacher) that it’s a skill *all* actors need. In my case, I love be in charge: knowing what to do and how to do it. And this is true for all my students; everyone wants to get it right. Unfortunately, getting it right puts us in our head… and out of our natural instincts.
Here are three guidelines to help you begin using improv in your scene work:
-Play! Engaging in something because you enjoy it is completely different than doing it because you *have* to. When we feel like we have to get the scene right, we can’t play. Explore, try a different intention, do a goof-through (that means doing the entire scene completely goofy.) Or, try a dance-through – dance your way through your lines! Really! Try it! When you play, you can be present and in the moment; out of your head and into your body. Once you’re there, you’ll notice you begin to start…
-Listening. It’s one of the most important things an actor can do. It’s also the HARDEST. Listening is the willingness to change. If you’re focused on getting it right, it means that you *already* have the answers and you’re not willing to change. But being spontaneous requires listening. So listen with every part of your being and be willing to respond to what you’re hearing because that’s where improv happens.
-Let Yourself Fail. Yup, sometimes you’re gonna suck. But failing does not make you a failure, it just means you have the opportunity to start again. That last idea didn’t work? So what? Try a new one. Don’t beat yourself up – just say: “Ok, begin again.”
And then do it.
Next up: Say “Yes, and…”!!
Know someone who could benefit from this Acting Tip? Please Share!!