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Five Tips for Comedy Success

The key to comedy is . . . . . . . . . .


Those who know comedy know it’s a terribly tricky beast. So, if you are performing one of our comedy Madrigal Dinners or Jazz scripts, it may seem daunting. That is why we’re giving you five tips for making your comedy acting successful.

5 tips for making your comedy acting a success

#1 Get Physical

The Marx Brothers are famous for their physical humor. Harpo’s humor was entirely physical. The comedy YouTube channel Studio C is another great example. Check out their most popular video:

While goalie Scott Sterling gets continually smacked in the face, his reaction each time is what makes it hilarious. The stumbling, flop-falls, disorientation, and desperate crawling away at the end is hysterical.

When reading through a dinner theater script, see how you can add physical humor. Some examples:

  • Our Sam Shovel play called for the sound effects person to use a plunger as one of the sound effects. Instead of plunging it on the table, the actor plunges it on her face. Big laughs!

  • In our script, A Loop in Time, the villain is supposed to exit around a pile of gift boxes. Instead, the actor chose to trip on the boxes on the way out and then throw a box in frustration. One night, however, the box ricocheted back into his face. The audience was roaring!

  • In the Madrigal Dinner script Princess Grace of Knockerdown, two actors choreographed a sequence of clumsy events. First, the princess stepped on a suitor’s foot, and when he yelled, she was so startled she dumped her bucket of water on him. When she turned to grab him a towel, he got smacked in the stomach with the mop. Comedy gold!

#2 Reacting

Be sure to react to other character's lines.

The audience looks to see how the cast reacts to the punchline or the physical humor of another character. You will miss a comedy moment if you are expressionless, waiting for your cue.

For instance, in our play The Desperate Housewives of Shakespeare, the inspector is reading off the multiple murder weapons used to kill Shakespeare. Titania remarks, “He must have been awfully hard to kill.” To which the inspector responds, “High school English departments have been trying for years.” Then, our actor playing the inspector looked into the audience and smirked, giving them a knowing nod. The line wouldn’t have been as funny without it.

Another example is in our Shakespeare Short, Much Ado About Nothing. Our two actors would blow kisses or rub noses together whenever Claudio and Hero were on stage without lines. The audience loved watching these two.

#3 React Toward the Audience

Face the audience when reacting to action on stage.

When you are reacting, make sure it’s toward the audience. Expressing toward your fellow actor means you are sideways or have your back to the audience. Then, they will miss the whole thing. Be sure that the audience has a full view of your facial expression and body language when you perform.

#4 Don't Move During Funny Scenes

Don't distract from the main action when you are on stage.

Unless movement is specified in the script, you should stay still if you aren’t the center of the joke. Extra movement can interrupt the comedic rhythm of the moment. And it pulls the audience’s attention from the action to you.

#5 Keep Your Energy Up

Comedy acting in dinner theaters should be fast.

Comedy is fast. Don’t slow the show's pace, and keep your energy up. Warm up your body before you come on stage. Jump, dance, kickbox—whatever you need to get your blood pumping and body moving.

If you are faking energy, the audience can tell. Your low mood or exhaustion will show up on stage. Listen to your favorite stand-up or viral video to get yourself laughing. Get more sleep. Have a really good coffee. Bright spirits make for good comedy.

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