After spending years within the entertainment industry as an actor, writer and casting director, there is one aspect about comedy acting that I’ve noticed – it is far more difficult to stay committed to character choices when compared to dramatic acting. Although there may be character variables within a character’s personality, staying committed to the primary personality and vocal choices of a character is by far one of the most difficult tasks for the majority of comedic actors.
You can even see examples of professional actors dropping their character choices for a split second in movies. In “Scary Movie 2,” which is by far my favorite of the “Scary Movie” franchise, the caretaker has a moment of dropping his voice during one particular scene. While to many this may not seem like such a big deal, it immediately took him out of his character choices and brought him into another realm, almost making him a completely different character within a moment’s notice.
This should go as a warning: even losing your character for a split second can completely pull an audience member out of the scene and make your character seem unrealistic.
This brings me to a very important point – realism. When we’re talking about comedy, realism may seem to be the last thing on your mind; however, as an actor, it is your job to convey a sense of realism even when you’re playing a caretaker that has one “tiny” hand and a pension for “stuffing a turkey” with not your typical kitchen appliances. No matter what your character is, what he talks like or where he was raised, you must always commit to your character choices throughout an entire performance.
Not only must you be vocally committed, but you should always maintain a high level of commitment when it comes to: physical actions, acting technique, dialogue, jokes and interaction between other characters. In comedy, you must leave your pride at the door. You must be willing to “go there” and make a fool of yourself. You cannot fake pure comedy, you cannot halfway commit to your character. If you are unwilling to wholeheartedly dive into a character then you shouldn’t be a comedy actor.