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Humor in Improv and Comics

December 28, 06 - 6:33

I have been taking improv classes recently, and I've also been reading some of the holy books of improvisation ("Truth in Comedy" by Close, Halpern and Johnson, and "Impro" by Keith Johnstone). Additionally, I've been making a comic on the internet.

Good improv is (or can be) hysterical. Well executed comics are (or can be) hysterical. One might well have figured that both tickle the funny bone in the same way. That is, that there is this single talent of being funny, and if you apply it to a comic, you get a funny comic, and if you apply it while improving, you get funny improv. This is not so.

I realized this must be the case when I noticed that I was engaging entirely different processes when I tried to script the comic from what went on in the improv classes. It wasn't that both start with the same thing, and then in scripting, one refines and revises the raw humorous nugget. I mean, one could create that way, but it wasn't how I was creating. So I've been thinking about comedy and how the comedic aspects of a work are shaped by the medium. Some of these thoughts tie in to thoughts I have about continuity, and serialized storytelling, but I will try to focus primarily on the issues involving humor.

Maximize Verbosity

Lewis - default - seven comments / one trackback - §

Follow the Trail of Pennies to Voids

December 02, 06 - 12:21

Pennies are small simple things.  Most people consider them to be worthless due to their low monetary value.  But some take the time to pick them up each time they see one and take it as a moment to revel in small unnoticed treasures that are generally ignored by the rest of the world, too busy to bother with such "trivial" things.

Shayna Marchese's "Voids" is about the small moments most ignore.  The protagonist, Sara, is constantly picking up pennies even when chided by her more jaded counterparts.  She claims that she thinks that she imagines "someone left them for me" as she retrieves a penny from in front of the place she has purchased a snack.  The coin theme is repeated poetically through out the entire comic like a composer presenting theme and variation in a musical composition.  Just as Elgar's Enigma Variations used one theme to tell about each of his friends in each variations, Marchese uses the repeated sequence of Sara retrieving a penny on the ground to develop the characters.  Sara leaves her apartment and sees a man digging through her garbage.  On the ground are some pennies and Sara dutifully picks them up and wonders who dropped them.  Sara's boyfriend dumps her at a coffee shop.  We don't see his exit, only that he has left the tip behind in coins and dollars.  Sara's friend, Frances hurries off the bus and nearly trips over Sara as she picks up yet another penny.  Frances sternly asks why she has to pick up every penny and then barely hears Sara's reply because she is looking at her cell phone.

Maximize Verbosity

Grant - default - two comments / No trackbacks - §