A man who’s directed me in several comedies said recently that he’d love to direct a drama. I’d love to be in one, too, but as we both acknowledged, dramas don’t sell. Not in the small eastern North Carolina market where he and I sometimes collaborate.
He’s an old hand at it, the comedy thing, way more immersed in the history and practice of making people laugh than I am. My underdeveloped, almost vestigial sense of humor makes it impossible for me to appreciate, let alone revere as he does, the likes of Lucille Ball and Art Carney. I have no idea what the Marx Brothers were all about, and if you ask me, laughing unironically at The Three Stooges should be admissible in court as evidence of mental impairment.
The farce that he directed last month, and that I performed in, was a perfect example of what I’m getting at. My character’s lines were as funny to me as actuarial tables, but people laughed. So much so that I sometimes wanted to turn to the the audience and say, “Seriously? Are you okay to drive?” (Many of them weren’t okay to drive on opening night, but that’s another story.)
Fortunately for me, be it Shakespeare, Neil Simon, Ken Ludwig or Tennessee Williams, honesty is what puts the ram in the ramalamadingdong, so all an actor really needs to do is keep it real.
That I did.
That I do.
Even when I have no idea what I’m talking about.