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  1. Comics Don’t Laugh

    Thursday, August 16, 2012



    by Rhonda Hansome

    One of the most interesting and surprising stereotypes I’ve observed in comedy is that comics don’t laugh - a lot.  That comics don’t laugh is just one discovery among many astonishing revelations about my industry, e.g. I’m not a big star, I need a paying gig, I will tell jokes for food stamps.  Don’t’ get it twisted!  Comics appreciate the impeccable structure of a well-crafted joke or expert timing.  They just don’t express that appreciation with laughter.  Upon witnessing a fellow performer with a persona perfectly wedded to spot-on material, some comics have been known to pay tribute by spending years in a drunken stupor.  That comics don’t laugh – a lot, is particularly disturbing to me is because I love to laugh.  When I’m confronted with the truly hilarious I guffaw, bellow and I howl a full throated release of laughter.  Sometimes tears trickle down my face as my entire upper body convulses in a response I deem a laughgasm.

    This week I had a two hour laughgasm, rivaling the most exquisite instance of tantric sex, induced by the comic genius of One Man Two Guvnors on Broadway at The Music Box Theater.  Carlo Goldoni’s The Servant of Two Masters, translated and updated by Richard Bean, in this National Theatre of Great Britain offering supported by a veritable army of producers, is a delightful homage to Comedia dell’Arte and Moliere.  Britain’s seaside Brighton circa 1963, is the setting for this orgy of slapstick, mistaken identity, music, double entendre, door slamming , star-crossed lovers romp.  The connecting thread and rotund soul of the play is the eternally hungry and bizarrely incompetent Francis Henshall.  British comedy star James Corden,  portraying the Herculean inept Henshall, is a comedic force of nature surrounded by perfectly cast co-stars guided by the master hand of director Nicholas Hytner who is aided by Cal McCrystal the divinely inspired Physical Comedy Director.

                                                             

    The story is too silly and detailed to explain here.  Suffice it to say, Henshall suffering pangs of hunger and unemployment suddenly finds himself laboring for two people.  One an effete murderer, the other a dead gangster - really a woman disguised as the twin brother her lover killed.  Henshall’s efforts to keep his two “guvnors” from meeting as he confuses their messages, bungles their respective commands and filches their meals results in a tour de force performance.   Corden generously allows his fellow actors to shine as each cast member milks the willing audience of every available laugh.  The production values thankfully include real time electronic sub-titles, a running gag itself.  The music (including washboard, xylophone and steel pan selections) is relentlessly upbeat.  The fourth wall disappears on whim.  A first act improvisation the night I attended included Corden haranguing an audience member, who ruined his featured running joke by offering his starving character a sandwich.

    Adjusting to the actors’ accent and simultaneously reading the sub-titles was a nervous bit of foreplay that quickly morphed to enticing titillation, followed by serious stimulation climaxing in a two hour multiple laughgasm.

    Days later I am beside myself with post-laughgasm glow, because One Man Two Guvnors delivers the yuks.  I’ll admit it, I’m a comic and I love to laugh.   
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  2. 4 comments:

    1. i laugh too -- that's the point of listening to funny. i am typically the odd one in most groups, so i'm often the only comic laughing. yes, i like laugh tears and hurting smile muscles.

    2. loislane911 said...

      So true, and a fact few lay people know or understand: many comics do not laugh,-- they appreciate, or don't appreciate, and they express this with a serious comment, nod, or thumb thrust. Some comics just don't get anyone else's humor but their own, some are too jaded, and some are so into the structure and craft of a line/joke/routine that they are too busy analyzing. When I watch the late night hosts, esp. Letterman, I wonder if they have to practice laughing in order to appear to enjoy their guests. Do you think when experienced sex therapists orgasm (or watch someone else orgasm) they only nod their heads in controlled approval, and remark, "that's funny"?

    3. loislane911 said...

      So true, and a fact few lay people know or understand: many comics do not laugh,-- they appreciate, or don't appreciate, and they express this with a serious comment, nod, or thumb thrust. Some comics just don't get anyone else's humor but their own, some are too jaded, and some are so into the structure and craft of a line/joke/routine that they are too busy analyzing. When I watch the late night hosts, esp. Letterman, I wonder if they have to practice laughing in order to appear to enjoy their guests. Do you think when experienced sex therapists orgasm (or watch someone else orgasm) they only nod their heads in controlled approval, and remark, "that's funny"?

    4. loislane911 said...

      So true, and a fact few lay people know or understand: many comics do not laugh,-- they appreciate, or don't appreciate, and they express this with a serious comment, nod, or thumb thrust. Some comics just don't get anyone else's humor but their own, some are too jaded, and some are so into the structure and craft of a line/joke/routine that they are too busy analyzing. When I watch the late night hosts, esp. Letterman, I wonder if they have to practice laughing in order to appear to enjoy their guests. Do you think when experienced sex therapists orgasm (or watch someone else orgasm) they only nod their heads in controlled approval, and remark, "that's funny"?

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