Saturday, April 11, 2009

ON ACTING: Comedy and Elegance

Comedy, even more than drama, demands great discipline, courage, and grace-under-pressure: in a word, elegance.

The emotional intensity involved in comedy is invariably greater than that in great drama (although not as complex and varied). Therefore the comic actor-as-character must live under great amounts of emotional chaos during the scene.

Comic actors must work harder to physically handle their chaotic emotions. Intense, inelegant emotions require extremely elegant actions: stumbles, clumsiness and pratfalls, while it looks like the actor is out of control, must be precise. A lack of exquisite form is punishable by a lack of audience response: laughter.

Comedy is controlled hysteria, disciplined chaos. Watch the emotionally chaotic yet brilliantly graceful performances of Jim Carrey, Jerry Lewis, Lucille Ball, Dick Van Dyke, Jackie Gleason, and Charlie Chaplin. They are, like many other great clowns of film and stage, sine qua non lessons in courage, grace under pressure, elegantly manifesting the most sublime physical and verbal control while maintaining the maximum emotional intensity.


Blogger HoustonLady said...

And don't forget Jack Lemmon, my all time favorite.

8:09 PM  
Blogger Cliff Osmond said...

How could I forget Jack?! Proxinity, perhaps. Forgive...definitely one of the greatest of all time!!

11:38 AM  

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