Deep in Comedy
Not long before class, I found out that one of my scene partners would not be coming, because they are killing it at work, so I only had one scene to do last night, the comedic one from Playing House.
When the other girls had done this scene in the Wednesday class, Suzanna told the one playing my character that she could wear a fake belly if she wanted, so I decided to take that advice and wore a loose dress with a large sweatshirt. The belly only survived the first take, because it was hard to juggle the sweatshirt as well as the chair, which I ended up dropping. Still, I believe it served its purpose,grounding me and adding a layer to a statement that never worked so well as when I looked down at the large stomach I was holding, rather than simply looking down at an imaginary one.
I also find the fake belly made me a little too rational, or maybe made me act like I thought I was rational, when really I am being unfair to my friend. This made me doubt how the scene was playing out, because it got into too much of a fight, and I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to make it to the happy resolution. When I voiced my concern to Suzanna, she said her note for me was actually to get more upset and go deeper, which ultimately allowed us to have a bigger shift when we finally get honest with each other and make up. Every take after that, we went depper, got more upset, more invested, stayed angry longer, so that at the end, when she makes a tyranosaurus rex joke, the laughing and making up is more meaningful.
Sometimes I can make the mistake of assuming comedy has to be over the top and all the arguing has to be comedic, but the real gem is to find the sadness in the comedy, just like you find the humor in the drama. In one of our last takes, I completely flubbed a line. I literally can’t even tell you how I got to the word I used, because it is not in the dictionary, but last night, I had no idea. I was so in the moment that I didn’t even notice that I said the wrong thing.
For our last take, we did a subtext exercise beforehand, which I absolutely loved. This is my favorite kind of improv, when you have the story and the character and the background, but you just need to be in the moment and react to what the other person is giving you. When we finally got into our actual dialogue, I was much angrier and more upset, but the deeper we got into the emotions and the argument, the better and more powerful the transition was.
“Why do we laugh at such terrible things? Because comedy is often the sarcastic realization of inescapable tragedy.”
-Bryant H. McGill