On Comedy

 

Don’t write funny plays.  

That’s my advice for the day, young playwright. Don’t write funny plays. You can’t win.

Write serious plays.

Serious plays are taken seriously, but funny plays are dismissed as laughable.

So when writing a play, remember the mantra: Serious, Serious, Serious.

There is a famous quote about comedy: Dying is easy; comedy is hard. A google search revealed that this quote was said by Sir. Donald Wolfit on his death bed. He’s dead now. 

Comedy is hard to write and to play. I’ve sat with a dead quiet audience for one of my funny plays. Ouch. I’ve had plays where I thought I was taking on heavy and serious things, and the audience was laughing hysterically. I’ve given up trying to predict the funny in my work. 

To me, the history of playwriting has three gods of comedy: Shakespeare, Chekhov, and Beckett. Shakespeare for his ear, his wit, and his timing. Chekhov for his eye for behavior and brutality. Beckett for his physicality and sense of destruction. 

I spent about sixty seconds in the comedy world. All everyone seemed to ask was is it funny? is it funny? Personally, I would rather ask deeper questions.

I can’t help being funny. I was just born that way. Some days, I wish I was born a wealthy super model.

I think Steve Martin said it all when he said, comedy is the art of making people laugh without making them puke. 

Words to live by as we head into Thanksgiving.

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