Monday, October 24, 2016
Comedy acting advice... not that anyone asked me
There’s a great example of this from theater royalty. Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne performed together on Broadway from the ‘20s to the ‘70s. They were your classic “thee-a-tuh” actors.
Way back in the ‘20s or ‘30s (believe it or not I was not around for that), they were trying out a show in Boston. Lunt got a big laugh on a line where he asked for a cup of tea. But during the New York run the laughs on that line dissipated until finally there was nothing but crickets. Lunt was perplexed. Why was the line no longer working? Fontanne had the answer. “Ask for a cup of tea, not a laugh.”
Good directors understand this.
The actors were surprised when they first performed in front of an audience that suddenly there were a ton of laughs. Think about it – Robert Redford getting guffaws? He’s not exactly Mr. Funnypants. But he was hilarious. And why?
He asked for tea.