I have always been first and foremost an actor. Yes, I’m writing this but I’m an actor who writes. To be precise a comedic actor. I am never happier than when I’ve earned the audience’s laughter; it’s a giant hug of warmth.
Comedy isn’t easy. It’s all about timing. Say the line too fast and you lose your laugh. Say it too slow and you get the same result. Not getting an expected laugh is like tripping unexpectedly; you’re not hurt, but you feel rather foolish. That said (or wrote, I suppose), every audience is different. Although smaller audiences are less likely to laugh, once they get started, they’re fine. The getting started part may take time, though. Everyone is afraid they’ll be the only ones laughing. I’ve known actors who get people to come and laugh so the risk of being the first to laugh is taken off the table. Seriously. People do this. It’s a thing.
You also can’t get a laugh by yourself (unless you’re doing stand-up, of course, which is a unicorn of a completely different colour). Every actor depends on her colleagues to get the laugh. Every laugh line comes with a set up - which is usually three or four dialogue exchanges before the laugh. If this is done wrong, the laugh disappears. This is a difficult lesson for actors to learn. Some actors do not possess comedic timing, but get cast in comedies.
This is tragic. And ironic. I hate irony.
Never think that writing comedy is easy either. It ain’t. When you want the funny, the funny decides to go on vacation. You’re starting at an empty page because (say, hypothetically) a blog post for the Blood-Red Pencil is due and your post is supposed to be funny because that’s what She Who Must Be Obeyed is expecting you to write, and the funny is sunning itself on a beach in Bermuda. I hope it gets burned….just like I do when I have to write and force funny. Because it’s not.
Arg. More irony. See above.
I’m part of a theatre professionals’ writing cooperative and I’ve been working on a historical play about Wallis Simpson. I’m attempting to write something which shows her not as a villain, but as a victim. It’s not supposed to be funny. You know what I’m hearing in critiques? ‘We love the humour’.
Arg. See above.
|Elspeth Futcher is a bestselling author of murder mystery games and playwright. She has been the top selling author at host-party.com since 2011. Her British games are published by Red Herring Games in the UK. Her latest game is "Which Guide Lied?" Elspeth's 'writing sheep' are a continuing feature in the European writers' magazine Elias and also appear on this blog from time to time. Connect with her on Twitter at @elspethwrites or on Facebook at Elspeth Futcher, Author.|