character actress

I’m learning

The comedy class I’m in is right now working on character development. This is something that I enjoy doing once I’m in it, but have a hard time letting myself do right away. I find that quite often the character I develop is based off someone I know, or something I do, and not necessarily someone I’ve never met before.

Because it’s like, week four, or whatever, I decided to try something harder for me last night. I picked a character that I’d never play in a million years, just to see what it was like. I picked an older woman, who was more settled into her speech. Slower. More methodical.

Somehow during the initial work, the instructor had decided that my character was wealthy, even though I wasn’t making her so. It had something to do with me saying I couldn’t find my cell phone. But, I mean, even I have a cell phone, and I’m not a wealthy person. Everyone I know has a cell phone. I guess being a woman, calling her husband’s office looking for her cell phone, people are going to think she’s wealthy. It’s hard to remember what people will assume with just small amounts of information. It’s good to know for later, though.

I told the instructor that I was having a hard time with this character because I think much faster than this person speaks and the wrong words keep coming out. He said that’s a good thing and to keep working with it.

So, of course, because I’m having a hard time and I’m feeling like I’m not doing well, the new artistic director decides to sit in on the rest of class.

No pressure, of course.

Actually, the scene went fine, but I was really aware of how hard it was for me to play an older, calm, regular old woman. I’m used to really manic characters that have these really intense emotions and giggle or dance or sing or fall down. I don’t know. Playing someone who just sits there and gossips or makes quiet, mean comments was really difficult for me.

Last night, as I was falling asleep I was thinking about this scene. A girl from Monks’ Night Out moved here a year ago, and she’s also in this class. So, here I am on the other side of the country, still doing scenes with this girl and sometimes we look at each other and go, “This is really strange.” In any event, I’m very lucky to have that feeling of a base inside this totally new class. She and I know each other well enough to feed each other things, or play off each other. But last night I was thinking about an old scene that I had written that the two of us were in, and how I thought it was hysterical, but no one else thought it was funny. No, that’s not true. Some of the boys thought it was funny, but the girls hated it. And there in the dark I started going through the scene again in my head. And really, only one line was still funny to me. The rest of the scene seemed incredibly dumb, and screamed, “This girl’s been watching too much Mr. Show.”

Now, is that because I’m learning or is that because I’m getting older that I don’t find the scene as funny? Not even the scene, which might not be funny at all in reality, but just comedy in general. Is my taste in comedy changing? If it is, is it a good thing? Will my tastes become more conservative as I get older? Will I still think, “I’m like the Lillith Fair, but with fat!” is funny? Will all of my recaps on mbtv just become “And so-and-so’s really loud and the other kid mumbles and then everyone just says some filth and flarn.”

Just because I’m getting older doesn’t mean my comedy has to. And there has to be some sort of good in the fact that I have a hard time playing older people, right?

Or am I now trying to make it sound like a good thing that I kinda suck at character work? That’s probably it.

Well, at least I’m neurotic enough to be in comedy. That’s for sure.

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