Four decades after it premiered, Saturday Night Live is still a huge hit watched by millions. Why? Because they’ve mastered sketch comedy. When it works, it rocks your audience, has them repeating lines around the office (sometimes for years!), and gets them to come back for more. Welcome to the fine art of sketch comedy! Here’s how to make it work for you:
-Always Play the Truth.
Play it straight. The minute you start trying to be funny, you’re not. The funniest moments come when you stay present so that you can react genuinely. And The 9 Rules of Intentional Acting still apply!
-Learn How to Extend a Moment.
This is a choice; you don’t want to extend *every* moment. But this can pay off nicely if you chose a good spot for it. Is your character looking for her keys? Don’t just pull them out of the first pocket you find. Search around, pat yourself down, let that “oh-man-I’ve-just-locked-myself-out” look cross your face. Fun little bits of business like this can pay off big!
-Be willing to use your body (pratfalls, etc.)…including your face!
Fill up the space with your body. Remember that the frame of the shot is wider for comedy specifically so that you can react with your body and fill it. Is there a gesture or physical way of expressing your intention? Also, the larger frame allows for bigger facial reactions, so use that to raise the stakes. It’s not just “What?” It’s “W-H-A-T???” Don’t be afraid to use facial expressions!
Again – watch the greats do physical comedy: Melissa McCarthy, Will Farrell, and Jim Carrey.
Next Up: Sketching Out Your Funny
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