Glynn Nicholas - on the serious business of making comedy.
Laugh and the world laughs with you, but cry… and snot comes out your nose. I think it was Shakespeare who said that in one of his screenplays.
When I used to be a busker during the 70’s and 80’s (you can all get fucked, yes I am that old) I learned very quickly that the more people were laughing the more they were inclined to pay you for your efforts.
Busking was a very simple and honest transaction.I would perform, the passer-by would either stop or keep moving. If he or she stopped and approved of what I was doing they would either:
A. pay me and feel good about it
B. leave without paying, go home and hopefully that night, choke to death on a fish bone.
When I perform in a show or produce, or direct one, one of the most important things that I want to give the audience is that sense of “I wonder what is going to happen next.” An engaged audience is less likely to leave, more likely to drop some money in your hat and no-one dies.
Now, some of you are probably thinking “what does that have to do with the serious business of comedy, fuck face?” Well, first there is no need for that kind of language and second, calm the beep down and I will explain.
Let’s say this play Silent Night was being performed in the street and you were on your way to Aldi to buys some apples or maybe some chocolate biscuits. It doesn’t matter what items you want to buy (although too many chocolate biscuits in your diet will make you fat and will kill you) the point is that you are on your way to do some shopping. En route to Aldi you happen upon the actors who are in Silent Night performing an excerpt of the play in the street. There is a crowd who have gathered and at first you might say to yourself “Well this is all very strange, I didn’t realise they allowed scummy meat puppet actors to ply their trade in nice suburbs like mine, perhaps I should call the authorities and have them tazered and removed.”
But then, after a moment you hear the crowd laughing. “Are they laughing at me?” You ask yourself. No, it’s not always about you. They are laughing at and with the actors from Silent Night who have managed to ENGAGE the audience with their Mary-Rachel-Brown-driven hijinks. In that very moment of laughter two significant events take place.
First, fairy moans have been released into the blood stream of the members of the audience, triggered by the laughter* and a sense of well-being descends on the audience.
B, chances of the actors getting some money have increased significantly.
(Note the audience watching the performance are not likely to be aware that these particular actors are so desperate for any form of recognition and praise that they would perform for cheese sandwiches and beer slops)
The point is that laughter is something that we all enjoy, need and appreciate. I reckon Victor Frankel was right when he suggested that human beings are able to manage the traumas, dramas and challenging events of life better if they are able to retain two characteristics
1. A sense of inquisitiveness
B. A sense of humour.
Those who can see the funny side of things and who are continuously curious about life are generally much more optimistic about tomorrow and MUCH better company. No matter what a person’s social standing, if they are unable to laugh about life and laugh at their own ridiculousness they will usually end up grumpy, without friends and getting dementia early.
I have a mate Anthony Ackroyd who runs laughter workshops around the country and he says (insert quote from Anthony) Laughter helps us access vitality and creativity, improves our communication and connection with others, lets us express who we truly are and makes life a joyful experience!
I feel lucky and better looking directing Silent Night. We have a wonderful, albeit slightly mad script written by a very funny (and highly underrated) Mary Rachel Brown and the cast all have a very good understanding of the delicate intricacies of how comedy works. Simple things like facing front, hands out of pockets and not mumbling have not been an issue.
Now buy tickets immediately and don’t be a cheapskate. Sheesh!
*Anthony Ackroyd Laughter Workshops
Posted 20 Oct 2017