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On laughter and trust

I had a friend who was a senior theatre arts major last year, the first year that senior theatre arts students were allowed to see the sophomore auditions. She came home that night in a tizzy.

“I am NEVER doing a serious monologue again! Not if I have any say about it!”

She then proceeded to list off nearly ten people whose auditions she remembered. All of them had chosen to do comedic monologues, and she could recall their auditions in detail. I asked what in the hell that had to do with anything, expecting her to list off ten more people she remembered who had done dramatic monologues. She could only remember one (who she thought had done badly, which is why she remembered it at all.)

“Why would I cry with you when I met you and this character less than a minute ago? Never. But I’ll laugh with anyone. I’m dying to laugh.”

Dying to laugh. Funny phrase.

I think audiences don’t trust an actor or a play or a tv show or a movie until it’s made them laugh at least once. They’re not willing to buy in for a good cry until they’ve been given a good laugh first. Things that have no humor in them at all are almost never good. There is a place for tragedy as a genre, society needs it for different reasons than it needs comedy. But I think every show needs at least one solid joke. I don’t think a world exists where things are so tragic that humanity wouldn’t find even one moment to use laughter to cope.

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