Monday, June 27, 2011

For Laughing Out Loud

Contents:
For Laughing Out Loud
Summer Question
Weekend Puzzle Answers
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Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth.

Shakespeare
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One of the most difficult things for an actor to do on the stage is to laugh. It is easier to cry than to laugh, we all have sorrows and injustices to weep about and it's fairly easy to make a connection with them. But laughing is another matter. People have fake laughs, polite laughs, obligatory laughs, laughs that indicate something is supposed to be funny but you aren't really laughing at it. Some characters have those kinds of laughs also. But at the moment in the play when the character is genuinely amused to the point of laughter the laugh has to be genuine. And that's hard, particularly when you've heard the amusing remark a hundred times or more.

The best on stage laugher I ever worked with was an actor named Rob Gomes. I did five performances with him n a Pintauro play. At one moment something strikes his character funny and every night Rob was literally overcome with mirth. It was a pleasure to watch.

Other actors will just rely on a fake laugh, and I worked with a woman, whose name I forget, who had a laugh that was so genuine sounding that it had me fooled for a few days. Most fake laughs are transparently false, sadly.

Some actors will simply walk away from it and not laugh at all because they know they can't do it. They may get by with a broad smile. But with some you won't even see that. I was doing an O'Neill play with an actor, whose name I also forget. At one moment he is supposed to laugh. My next line was "What are you laughing at? I suppose you thin it's funny." The first night he laughed. The second night he didn't. I waited. No laugh. I went on "I suppose you think it's funny." which made no sense. Fortunately I didn't say "What are you laughing at?" The third night there was no laugh. He was just staring at the floor. I said "What are you staring at? I suppose you think it's funny." which also made no sense. On subsequent nights I just cut the short scene altogether and got on with the play. When confronted about it the actor said he was so moved by my performance he couldn't laugh. Sure.

There's another kind of on stage laughter and it's when something is funny and it isn't supposed to be. Every actor has been on stage when someone made a slip up of some kind, usually in a line of dialogue. It hits the funny bone with an unexpected shock and it takes a great effort not to laugh. And it usually happens at a very dramatic moment with a lot of people on the stage or waiting in the wings.

In a performance of "The Crucible" by Arthur Miller a character has a line referring to the devil which goes "death driven into her forked and hoofed."
One night the actress said "driven into her horked and foofed." The rest of us were biting out tongues and cheeks and staring down so we wouldn't make eye contact with each other which would have been disastrous.

I was in a production of Shakespeare's "Othello" when another such slip up accored with almost everyone in the play standing by. Othello is describing Desdemona before he kills her.

"Yet I'll not shed her blood;
Nor scar that whiter skin of hers than snow,
And smooth as monumental alabaster."

One night he said "and smooth as alumental momblebaster." More tongue biting and teeth grinding.

Theatre people also like to do things to break each other up on the stage. I was in a production of "Greetings" when one night, and every night after that, a fake eye ball showed up somewhere on the set. The first night it was in the ice bucket, the next night in the desert bowl, then under the Christmas tree. We never knew who planted the eye ball or where it was going to be, but every performance one of us would come across it somewhere and try not to get the giggles.

The great thing about all these events is that we can get together and tell theatre stories to each other. Did you hear about the night so and so slipped during the big dance and fell into the orchestra pit. Or how about the night what's her name's costume almost fell off and the guy playing the cop had to hold it up from the back. Remember when Alice entered in the black out for her big dramatic scene and sat in the bowl of water?

Life is serious business, so get all the laughs you can out of it,

and
Never give up.
DB - Vagabond Journeys
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SUMMER QUESTION

It's a long, hot, sticky summer, so here's a hot, sticky question for you. Don't let the recent New York State decision rob you of your thunder.

Same sex marriage. Should it be legal or not? If so, why? If not, why not?

dbdacoba@aol.com

7 answers so far.

You have until the last day of summer, but don't dally.
I eagerly await your answer.

DB
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WEEKEND PUZZLE ANSWERS

You were asked what the following names have in common?
And for extra points, to identify them.
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The answer is they are all non human characters in film and television.

Beethoven - the movie dog

Champion - Gene Autry had a number of horses and they were all named
Champion

C3PO - the tall skinny robot from Star Wars

Ed - Mr. Ed the TV talking horse

Hal - the devious 2001 computer

Lassie - everyone's favorite movie collie

Louie - Donald Duck's nephew

Ollie - From Kukla Fran and Ollie, TV

Scout - Tonto's horse

Toto - Dorothy's little dog from The Wizard of Oz
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First prize of a bunny costume goes to Geo of the Blogspot Tigers who got most of them correct.

Thank You

DB
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3 comments:

Geo. said...

Honored, DB. but how many bunny suits must I win to get an alumental momblebaster?

Geo.

Arlene (AJ) said...

I can't imagine what life would be like without a good laugh and hope I never have to find that out. Laughing can make anyone realize that what you might think is so bad really isn't.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Laughter is the best medicine.