My new show coming up in two weeks is a combination of comedy and serious drama. Invariably, when I ask the actors (or even audience members) what was their favorite part of one of my shows, the answer is typically one of the comedies.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. I enjoy a well-crafted comedy as much as the next person. The problem that I encounter when I’m either watching theatre or TV is that I rarely think I come across a well-crafted comedy. For me, theatre pieces tend to be too overtly crass and TV comedy tends to have no depth to it at all. One of our sketches we’ll be performing is entitled “The Spies & Mrs. Claus” and it’s a rather simple piece about two elves trying to con Mrs. Claus into telling them what she got Mr. Claus for Christmas. Talk about simple. But the actors absolutely love the piece and most of them say that it’s their favorite. I have to admit that the two elves are absolutely hilarious in their characterizations. Mrs. Claus has to use all the concentration within her to just try to keep a straight face. I totally understand why everyone likes this, and the audience will totally eat it up.
But at the same time, I would never say that it is my favorite piece of the night. Far from it. I would always choose a more well-done, more serious piece of drama over a comedy any day. I like a piece that makes me think – that haunts me for the next few days and that forces me to make some decisions about certain issues. That, to me, is good writing and good acting.
We have several pieces in our show which qualify under that description. So it just made me think, why do most people prefer comedy?
Is comedy easy to like because it’s enjoyable and simply rolls off of you when it’s done? Does serious content make people think of issues and past events which they would prefer not thinking about?
When I think of the cinema, I cannot think of the last true comedy that I actually liked. It’s been years. Many years. I am at a complete loss right now trying to think of one. I can, however, think of many different dramatic movies which I have liked, even within the last year.
When it comes to theatre, I’m even more picky. (perhaps because I write it) It’s been ages since I’ve seen a comedy that I didn’t produce which I thought was quality. (Actually, I take that back. There was one earlier this year which was all right.)
So why do people shy away from the serious? Any thoughts?