Sunday, November 16, 2008

Dying Is Easy

I speak today on one of the most difficult tasks that anyone can ever undertake onstage...being funny.

Legendary actor Edwin Booth is credited with the famous quote, "Dying is easy...comedy is hard.". Booth was right on many levels. Comedy is an incredibly difficult task to pull off.

Humor is such a subjective thing. What makes me laugh probably doesn't make you crack a smile. Add in the fact that in order to be convincingly funny, you have to make it look effortless and the skill it takes to do that increases the level of difficulty a thousandfold.

Nothing is more painful than watching someone try to be funny and failing miserably. Professional comedians don't say they had a bad night...they say they "died.". That's how hard it is.

The Academy Awards rarely, if ever, recognize comedic performances. I think because when they're done well, it barely seems like it took any effort at all. But I can name several very good dramatic actors who can't or couldn't pull off credible comedic performances: Jennifer Connelly, joaquin Phoenix, Angelina Jolie and Harrison Ford to name just a few. It's that difficult.

So, if you're a performer who has the skill to make audiences laugh, whether by performing Shakespeare or Simon or just making it up as you go, I salute you. The world is in dire need of laughter & the ability to provide it is a great gift indeed.

Be proud...because dying is easy and comedy is very, very hard.

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