The serious side of comedy

by Sherri D. Sutton | 1 September 2014

I can’t encourage comedic artists enough to get training and to get on stage.

“Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.” That quote has been credited to several actors over the years (Peter O’Toole, Edmund Kean, Donald Crisp, Edmund Gwenn). I’m not sure who to give credit to, but I can tell you for sure that I did not say it. I do, however; completely agree with it. Amy Poehler goes into great detail about just how hard it can be:

“People quit because it’s really hard. It’s hard not to have a house, hard not to have money, hard not to have insurance, hard not to be married, hard to have your parents everyday ask you what are you going to do with your life. It’s hard to wait tables while you are doing improv shows. It’s hard to get up on stage and bomb. It’s hard to lug your props around everywhere. It’s hard to submit things and get rejected. It’s not easy! Good people make it look easy, and a lot of people want to do it because it looks easy.”

If you want great books on the craft of comedy, Mike Sacks has a couple: And here’s the kicker and his latest release: Poking a dead frog: conversations with today’s top comedy writers. The Amy Poehler quote above is from Sacks’ latest book.

When people give advice on comedy (in any of its numerous forms), I have to question if they actually perform it. Theory without practice is only half the art. I can study comedy, get a Master’s in Comedy, deliver workshops about how to perform comedy, direct a comedy and write comedy, but unless I have taken that craft and applied it in front of an audience, then there is no full way for me to understand the art.

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