Aug 1, 2012

Woody Allen on Comedy

"It’s one way of dealing with life. People think it’s very hard to be funny but it’s an interesting thing. If you can do it, it’s not hard at all. It would be like if I said to somebody who can draw very well, My God, I could take a pencil and paper all day long and never be able to draw that horse. I can’t do it, and you’ve done it so perfectly. And the other person feels, This is nothing. I’ve been doing this since I was four years old. That’s how you feel about comedy—if you can do it, you know, it’s really nothing. It’s not that the end product is nothing, but the process is simple. Of course, there are just some people that are authentically funny, and some people that are not. It’s a freak of nature.
This is from a great Woody Allen interview in the Fall 1995 Paris Review. I appreciate that Allen doesn't put a value judgement on being funny, he just explains, in a very straight-forward fashion, that if you are funny, it's not really a big deal. It is a natural thing. For some...

As a performing artist - improviser and actor (as well as a director, for that matter) - I'm often coming up to situations where I'm working with people slightly out of their element. That is to say, people who are expected to be funny, but who are not naturally good at comedy.

Upon reflection, this might be why I work rather exclusively with the same people from project to project. Like my friend and frequent collaborator, Jeff Swearingen... he's funny. It is not a big deal when the two of us are working together because we are in our element. I keep working with him, especially on comic projects, because of this. He's just one example, too. 

As a director, I have a list of actors who I wanna work with on other kinds of projects. There are actors who can sing well and move well, who look at the world a certain way. But my list of comic actors... oh man, I kinda hoard that list. 

You can't tell someone who isn't funny how to be funny.

Read the whole Paris Review interview HERE.

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