How to Perform Comedy
ComedyA fine piece of comic acting is so entertaining and delightful to watch, and usally seems so spontaneous and effortless, that the young actor is apt to fancy himself as a comedian and to suppose that comedy is the easy road to success. Actors that have been in the business for a while know that comedy, especially high comedy is far harder to act than tragedy, and good comedians are harder to find than good serious actors.
Either through talent or training, he must have a highly skilled technique, and above all he must have that mysterious quality which theatre people call “the comedy sense.”
He might be very alert, have literary understanding, a keen enjoyment of acting, and an undoubted sense of humor, and yet fail dismally to project the comedy to the audience.
The sense of HumorIt is actually typical that the best comedy actors are serious or even melancholy souls, not at all funny off the stage. Intelligence and a keen enjoyment of humor just do not necessarily imply a comedy sense in terms of theatre. The comedy sense, as the term is used in the theatre, is a very special talent or accomplishment, not ientical with, nor to be confused with, the sense of humor.
In order for the actor to deliver comedy successfully, he must be confident and easily function on two planes at once, as artist and instrument. The actor must be strong, but subtle. And must have a feeling for thought-sharing as opposed to exhibitionism. He must have a keen sense of humor, a lively sense of projection, a delicate sense of timing, a sharp sense of contrast, and a reasonable amount of restraint.