Breaking Character in Improv

I’ve been watching Whose Line Is It Anyway for almost 8 years now and it never gets old. The way the cast members are able to bounce ideas off of each other is impeccable and really makes the show what it is. I think this is because they are actually funny and don’t try to be funny. One of the biggest points in the Halpern reading was that the more you try, the harder it is to actually get the audience to laugh. That is what, I think, makes improv so funny. There is no script, just laughter. The audience has no idea what is going to happen and that’s what makes the little things funnier. That’s also why breaking character is funnier than it should be – because the audience doesn’t expect it to happen. The best example of this is during an SNL skit where an abducted hippie played by Kate McKinnon is trying to give a description of what aliens did to her while she was abducted. The stories she tells are hilarious and the camera starts to show the other abducted hippie played by Ryan Gosling and he’s trying to stop himself from laughing but he’s struggling a lot. This scene is especially funny because of that break in character because it catches the audience by surprise. However, there are still people who think it can ruin the whole point of the skit because the audience is more focused on the break in character than the actual point that the skit is trying to get across. Does breaking character hurt or benefit a skit’s comedic value and main ideologies?


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