Why The “Act Out” Is An Important Comedic Technique

Hello!  Sorry I didn’t put out an article last week, I don’t have a reason as for why I didn’t, I just didn’t.  I have regularly writing articles on this blog for the better part of two years, and I thought you guys wouldn’t miss one week.  Nope!  I was wrong, you guys totally expect a weekly article (if the numbers are any indication).  So, to apologize, I will put out two articles this week.  Thanks for checking out my blog (even though I know they are fading out of style).  This week we discuss, the “act out”.

The “act out” (I promise this is the last of the parenthesis) is what comedians call pantomiming actions that accompany a bit.  Some of the greatest comedians on the planet, use this to help “fill out” (ok I lied) a joke. Everything from facial expressions to complete body movements fall under “acting out”.  What this can do for a joke is huge.

An example of this is when you are telling a joke about a situation that most in the audience may not understand.  By acting out parts of the joke, you ensure that more people in the audience understand what you mean.  Another example is using facial expressions to rely to the audience your feelings at the time.  A simple frown or eyebrow raise, can alert the audience to your feelings while the events around you took place. Action on stage is also just more appealing then the comic that is just standing there talking.

Acting out can extent material.  Instead of just talking about walking with your pants around your ankles, you could act out that part and add an extra bit of time to the joke.  It may seem like a small amount of time, but when you add this to many of your jokes you may go from barely hitting 20 minutes, to now being able to feature.  The act out can also help in situations where the crowd is a little rowdy.  With a good act out, you can (hopefully) reel in a crowd that didn’t give a damn of your existence, It’s like shaking keys in front of a baby.

Now, the act out isn’t a sure fire way of improving your material however.  Just flopping around like a basketball player, won’t yield results.  With everything in comedy it has to be timely.  Look at your material and see when you should apply an act out.  It is probably best to do it right after you talked about it.  You can use act outs to extent your time, but if you are performing 30 second act outs to a 10 second joke, then you are doing it wrong. Don’t use it as a crutch.

When comedians first start out, they are so afraid that they just stand there and tell the joke and move on. With some simple arm movements, facial expressions, and complete pantomiming, you can turn a good joke into an amazing joke.

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