Can you think of a better way to make a living? Causing laughter in others is one of the most satisfying moments an actor can have, it can also be one of the more elusive, slippery moments we are ask to create. Therefore taking a really close look at comedy in order to understand the basic dynamics of this very lucrative, fun aspect of our craft is well worth it.
So what is laughter? One of those obvious questions that needs to be answered, especially if our job is to make people laugh… so what is it? Laughter, to the body, is a release of energy, prompted by an extreme juxtaposition of ideas, understandings and images, being witnessed both internally and sensorial (externally). Contrasting concepts trying to occupy the same place in the brain at the same time, creates this release. It’s this collision of concepts that explodes in our mind causing laughter. With this in mind the conscious creation of laughter can begin. This is useful to know, especially if our paycheck is determined by the laughter of others.
The creator of laughter must realize that pressure and proposed or current circumstances are the backbone of comedy. Pressure or emotional tension in the audience is the bases on which the creator creates his comedy. Getting your audience on edge or in a state of anticipation sets them up to laugh.
Knowing your audience’s likes, dislikes as well as their predisposition on life, liberty and their happiness becomes key to creating the tension and pressure necessary for the release of laughter. To the degree that you know your audience will determine the quality of the comedy you can create. Also a rule of perception states, “You can only know others to the degree that you know yourself.” So a great creator of laughter has taken a good long look at himself and others and has discovered some fundamental truths. He has come to realize the hypocrisy of his humanity, the walking, talking contradiction that is man. He has learned to see potential laughter in all facets of life. Irony becomes the bases of all laughter created, the primary eye that the Laugh Maker sees the world through. This gives the creator insight into his audience and with that he can pressurize them (the audience) setting them up for a series of releases (laughs). The intimate, very specific understandings of the concerns, fears, wants and needs of your audience creates an instant bond between the two of you for the simply reason that these fears and wants are yours as well. The journey each one of us is on is the fodder for great comedy. So pay close attention to the goings on within you and in relation to others and great material will show itself.
The second requirement to setting up the laughter is setting up the proposed, imagined, familiar circumstances for the audience, as well as accepting the current circumstances of the venue. What are circumstances? The active elements of life that surround, intervene, impose or influence people’s feelings, thoughts, actions and words, in a given moment of time. Circumstances are key to revealing the character of an individual. Character in this case is defined by the pre-programmed emotional, physical, instinctual, spiritual, sexual, intellectual reactions to external stimulus that each one of us has. These habitual reactions that life has taught define us in action and under pressure. When the chips are down, true character is revealed. This is where the comedy begins: all sorts of people under pressure in the mundane, inane, trivial pursuits of people seeking love and acceptance at all costs is funny and tragic and that’s the line we walk.
It’s the specifics of life that we relate to and identify with, the givens of society that define a person’s circumstances. These common denominators of existence set the stage for laughter and a unified audience experience.
So pressure and understanding the circumstances give us the bases on which to build laughter, not only with an audience but also within ourselves. This is by far the most important aspect of being human, the ability to catch ourselves in the lower echelons of our humanism and check ourselves, catching our weakness in action and correcting the misnomer, not with a heavy hand but with a sense of humor. Laughing at ourselves allows us to fall short of an ideal and pick up the pieces, with a good attitude, and try again, and again. Its having compassion for our clumsiness. Being human is funny and being a divine being in a trivial world has its challenges and it’s those challenges that the great human dilemma is built on. It’s those challenges that laughter keeps us balanced and sane in the mundane, insane world in which we live. To make one laugh is a divine pursuit and those that do it best are blessed.
Thomas Ardavany is an acting teacher and life coach for aspiring artistic and professional talent. He is an exceptional individual who has touched the lives of countless people through the Ardavany Approach, a unique method for enhancing perception and creative expression that helps individuals overcome their fears and connect to their power. It blends cold reading, scene study, interactive exercises, on-camera experience, and other tools to help t the actor. He is a respected practitioner with a unique energy and passion for helping performers and people from all walks of life succeed. Through self-awareness, a warm spirit, and “no-holds-barred” honesty, he seeks to influence the lives of all his students. Clients include Josh Holloway from Lost, Matt Gerald from Avatar, Rudy Reyes from “Apocalypse Man”. [email protected] / Twitter @ARDAVANY / FB https://www.facebook.com/Theardavanyapproach / 310 382 0907