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How to have a great comedic performance: 5 tips

How fun that we are in a business in which we get to play on stage and on set – and spread joy and humor through our performances.  Throughout your career, you will likely play a variety of dramatic and comedic characters, but for today, let’s talk about comedy.  If you are an actor wishing to improve your comedic chops, we at 3-2-1- Acting Classes in Los Angeles have some advice for you! Here 5 tips on how to have a great comedic performance.

  1. Look for juxtapositions, or “opposites,” in the material.

Comedy is full of what we call juxtapositions, which is when one character’s behavior contrasts sharply with another’s, creating a a fun and interesting rhythm and dynamic that makes people laugh.  As you are examining your comedic character, look at the other characters in the scene.  Are you the zany and silly character, where as your scene partner is the “straight” and serious character?  Or are you the serious character in the scene, which really makes a nice contrast with your wacky scene partner?  Know your place in the scene. Know that, even if you aren’t the character saying the most words, or making the wildest gestures, that your part is still so important.  For example, check out this scene from the 1968 film The Odd Couple (adapted by Neil Simon from his original play of the same title).

In this scene, it is clear that Jack Lemmon’s character is the goofy character, making funny noises, sounds and gestures throughout.  But in order for this to be heightened and funny, Walter Matthau’s character must remain “straight” or serious.  In fact, he barely says anything at all! So, know that, even if you remain straight-faced, saying only 3 or 4 lines in the entire scene, you are creating comedy!



  1. Make smart, supported decisions.

As you go through the material, make specific decisions about each aspect of your character. Have a reason (that is justified by the script) that your character has a specific characteristic.  For example, let’s say your character receives a bouquet of red roses in the scene and is absolutely overjoyed.  Perhaps your character has always dreamed of receiving a bouquet of roses — she used to pick them from her mother’s rose bush as a young child — and this is the very first time she is ever receiving roses as a gift! How exciting! The more specific and truthful, the better.

  1. Stay grounded.

Comedy is silly and fun and inspires us all to make goofy choices, which is GREAT.  But always, always, always remember to stay grounded.  Your character must be totally grounded in his reality, totally immersed in his circumstances — and connected to his scene partner, moment to moment.  It all comes back to collaboration. This is collaboration between you, the script, and the rest of your team, right? Any and all your choices have to come from what you’ve seen, experienced, imagined, or researched in your lifetime. If not, it won’t be grounded in reality. In order for an audience to relate, your character must be grounded in a reality that they recognize.

  1. Explore physical comedy.

Physical comedy never goes out of style.  We always laugh when a character gets nervous around a person he or she finds attractive and stumbles into a wall.  Or when the cartoon character slips on the banana peel.  Physical comedy isn’t always about stumbling or falling, though!  You can make specific choices about how your character walks, sits, holds her shoulders and turns her head.  It’s all in the details.  Does your character play with her hair when she’s nervous?  Tap her foot when she is impatient?  Walk with slouched posture?

If you need inspiration, you can go to the mall or a public place and search for someone who has a physicality that speaks to your character. Then, mimic their walk (from a polite distance). When you take on a unique walk and posture, you’ll find that you start making some unique choices.




  1. Explore vocal quality.

Let’s face it: vocal choices can be hilarious.  Voice actors, especially on cartoon films and TV shows, make a great living (that’s a topic for another article) and there’s a good reason for it!  Explore your voice. Warm up your voice every day.  Does your character have an accent? Does he speak in a higher register than you do? Does he talk super fast?  Or is he slower – more thoughtful. Think about rhythm and pace.  Again, go back to juxtaposition. See where your character fits in.


Most of all, have fun.  Follow your instincts. PLAY. Try different approaches.  Comedy needs to be worked on out loud and in collaboration with others.  Enjoy the process of discovering your character and of building a fun rhythm with your scene partner.


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  5. FYI, For the first time since this upgrade, I noticed some actual lag time in comments showing up on my videos. That means the comments have shown up instaneously now for almost 2 weeks. It's been GREAT! And, I think it really promotes discussion (and, therefore, community). I guess nothing lasts forever though. And, it's still better than it was, so:Thx 4 all you do 🙂

  6. Okay, I would totally make everyone leave so I could walk the halls of my home by myself. Having all those people around all the time would SUCK. Also, I would make everyone wear red socks everyday, except when I decided I didn’t like red and then I would yell, “WHY ARE YOU ALL WEARING THOSE STUPID SOCKS?!?! TAKE THEM OFF RIGHT NOW!!!” Because OH! The POWER!

  7. For those bragging about the PS3 version getting the 1st AC, it’s the inferior version (the 360 version of the 1st AC was better which is odd since it originally was going to be a PS3 exclusive). Less screen tearing and a better frame rate? 360 win.VN:F [1.9.17_1161](from 15 votes)

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  10. pa,Show trial of the Citadel, indeed! You may have it exactly right.I think the figure I’ve seen is that party registration among officers runs 6-1 Republican. I forget the source, though. Most of my feeling for the military culture comes from browsing military blogs. The sample set may be a bit unrepresentative, though. And certainly Universalist scholar-bureaucrat types are always trying to horn in on the game.

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  12. Caro flashman, non ho di certo voluto cancellare il tuo commento. Ho preferito completare meglio l’articolo, come è giusto che sia.Ma le tue parole sono molto cattive ed insensibili davanti ad un fatto come quello che è accaduto al nostro Paese. Riflettici.Ciao!

  13. Wine is still significantly cheaper in France especially compared to places such as Spain, Italy and Greece, even the UK! You can still pick up some great 1 euro deals on bottles of wine in the French supermarkets!

  14. None of those are similes…Also for the comment that this is a sellout, you don't think Vevo was a sellout? It is Google, they are a huge company. And this doesn't take anything away from YouTube, so not much will change unless you actively seek this programming out.Sounds cool, obviously not all of the content is up my alley, but some of it sounds interesting.

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  16. That’s a cunning answer to a challenging question

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  33. Lancio inoltre un piccolo quesito: i media ci bombardano con notizie del tipo "gioca 3 euro e vince 100 milioni", ogni giorno c'è qualcuno che ha grattato migliaia di euro con un biglietto, al superenalotto c'è gente che sogna di comprarsi il mondo, mentre le grandi vincite fortunate sono roba da primissima pagina in tutte le testate. Possiamo biasimare qualcuno che ingenuamente crede di essere quella persona su un miliardo che ha ricevuto la botta di culo che ogni giorno legge sui giornali? Soprattutto se internet è un mondo quasi totalmente sconosciuto?

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  37. Thank you for sharing this! I am not in my own business but am a working mom, so I still relate. Good tips. Found you through the Make My Morning Hop and am following you. Becky recently posted..

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  39. Beautiful card! I've picked up some great ideas and I love that you've listed the items so I can add them to my shopping list. I love that you used a bead cap and flat pearl for a flower.♥ Laura C.

  40. Pbrain, If your incendiary discourse ceased, this political blog would be both quiet and gentler. And more intelligent as well. Unfortunately Pbrain can’t halt his angry blather

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  44. dunno if studying too much makes my ears deaf but I only can hear May’n singing in the duet, kind of cant hear Ranka ^^; May’n’s voice is like more recognisable or maybe special like Mizuki Nana’s or Momoi Haruka’s, once heard can recognise.

  45. Millions of years? Well, since modern Humans(homo sapiens) only arrived aprox 100K years ago, I don’t know where you get that info. You ask “why not now???” Well, how do you know that they aren’t here? Not saying they 100% R but: Astronauts, physicists, doctors, pilots, governors, Lawyers, pilots, FBI, CIA and countless others all are willing to testify in congress to the existence of Aliens. Not to mention millions of abductions, sightings and other experiences. R they all lying?

  46. Hidden due to low comment rating. .YT Commentary (actually a description):“Watch a giant head cyst get popped with all the cheese coming out”With all the cheese?Please do not sell these jokes to us. *(Maybe “selling these jokes” is a strange phrase for you, but here is common, and I hope is understandable for everyone.)Poorly-rated.

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  54. Queen,"f the existence of the Black Wall Street is a myth, then I suppose the Holocaust is too"Don't forget the Crowns heights riots and who caused it.Carey,I'm shocked. I figured Cain would be your kind of guy.You know, off the plantation and on the porch.

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