The ability to find humour in a script is easily one of the most important skills an actor can have.
It’s humour that differentiates the maudlin from the deeply beautiful. It’s humour that ends the self indulgent drama and gives us the freedom of realism. And it’s humour that makes an audience fully engaged and not just passing their time. Despite all this- often humour is forgotten about. What a thing to forget in the world of entertainment!

Where and what is the humour?

In life there is beauty, fear, sadness, love, anger, kindness, aggression etc. We have all these things, and… we also have humour. But what is it exactly? It might be easier to identify humour when you experience a lack of it. When was the last time you went somewhere and even though you got along with everyone there, you thought… Oh my God! I cannot wait to get out here! My bet is you found yourself in a humourless environment. It’s painful. We need to experience humor in life. We need a break! We need the fresh air of humour! Despite our enjoyment and our necessity for humour in life, we forget to find it in the script. And a story without humour will be unrealistic or self indulgent or just plain boring… or all of the above.

So, for actors – how do you find the humor in a script?

You find humour in the bigger picture. You don’t zoom in on the moments of the script, you zoom out. You don’t look for the jokes. In fact, when there is a joke in a script, you play that down. If you play up a joke, it lacks realism. You pull back from the moments within the script to see the characters and the circumstances in context to the grand scheme of things. It’s there that you’ll find the humour to play up.

You must learn to find humour in the script, just as you must learn to find the humour in your life.

Humour not just important for you, the actor. It’s deeply important for you, the person. Humour facilitates an opening for your change and growth as a person. When you lose your sense of humour about yourself or the world around you, you lose the openness that allows for  the possibility of change. You’ll not be able to find the opening you crave. 100% serious won’t cut it.  It’s a requirement to be able to laugh at ourselves in order to continue our development and evolution.

Humour is deathly important.

– Michelle Meyrink