For years, I’ve been trying to get actors and writers to stop being so fucking funny. When a class gathers and I feel that funny energy -- Donald Duck voices, bad puns, any kind of needy cleverness -- I make them meditate. Just to open the drain of comedy neediness.
Comedic neediness creates what I call the comedy parfait – silliness on top of silliness. What you get is a gooky mess of good intentions and uncomfortable and desperate pleas for people to laugh. Eesh.
“If you’re doing something funny, don’t be funny doing it.” – Buster Keaton
It takes a lot of surrender for actors and writers to free themselves of the need to be funny.
Comedy can be so easy. Here’s a formula - stick an unreasonable character in a reasonable world. Or a reasonable character in an unreasonable world. Then pull the string and see what they do. Simple.
Advertising does the opposite. We create unreasonable worlds (advertising is actually quite good at this) and stick an unreasonable character in it = silly. Or we take a normal world and stick a normal person in it = boring.
Amy Schumer gets it. The actors in the “Twelve Angry Men” parody have no idea that what they’re arguing for is astronomically absurd. They are as filled with conviction as Lee J. Cobb’s Juror # 3 and Henry Fonda’s Juror # 8. Amy takes the grounded and reasonable world of the Twelve Angry Men jury room, fills it with unreasonable people, all arguing from the depths of their souls as to whether Amy Schumer is hot enough for TV.
Hey advertising, stop being so fucking funny and you’ll be fucking funny.