You love comedy. Maybe your dream is to write and star in your own web series, which will get snatched up by a major network but don’t worry you’ll still get to keep your artistic integrity. Maybe you want to do your standup show at Carnegie Hall, with an HBO special and a book deal and a podcast of you sounding clever, relaxed and very, very popular. You live to make others laugh, that much is clear. And you know it’s essential to polish your craft. But why clown/bouffon? You aren’t sure how this work could help you.
Okay, you say, I get why someone who wants to do live theater would do interactive comedy. But I want to be on TV and film! So wouldn’t it be pointless to put all that work into developing my relationship with a live audience?
Nope. In fact it is the difference between being a good and a great comedian. It’s all a question of your dimensions.
If you are working on developing, say, a comedic character, and you are not considering how this character lives in front of a live audience—if, in fact, the character is not BORN in front of a live audience, and cultivated there—then you are building a flat square, when what you need is a cube. You need to create something that takes up space in the world, that has shape, weight. Something that comes from your heart and not your head. Something that jumps off the stage (or out of the screen) and touches us, grabs us, gets spittle on us.
Developing a character with an audience adds that crucial three-dimensionality to what you do. Your character knows how to be still and just be, because she was born in stillness and self-acceptance. Your character knows how to breathe captivatingly, how to move through space charmingly, how to say that one thing that everyone will laugh at. Because every inch of that character has been tested in real time, in front of live human beings who either laughed or didn’t laugh, every step of the way.
Consider the strength of the character you develop through interactive comedy. It is like the toughest tree in the Arctic circle. It has known adversity and triumph, darkness and light. It has no fear of existing in front of people, because it could not exist without them. It has a palpable trust in the universe, and that pulls people in, every time.
Any terrifying audition you walk into, any hot-shot casting agent’s office, any high-stakes performance opportunity you can name, any performance opportunity at all, that character will be ready to roll.
You wanna be great at comedy? That’s why clown, clown.