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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The Problem with Feminist Comedians

After reading Hitchens’ article, I couldn’t help but feel a bit perturbed. Not only does he say that when describing a potential soulmate, men don’t say that “she’s so funny” but he also says that most female comedians are “hefty, dykey, and Jewish”. Both of these statements are just plain wrong. Plenty of my friends have dated women partially because they make them laugh; looks clearly aren’t everything. When it comes to female comedians, I just can’t understand how he can just group them into those three categories. Wanda Sykes, Margaret Cho, Maya Rudolph, Amy Poehler, and countless others don’t fit that description. However, he does save himself from further uproar by clarifying, that women can be funny and can make great comedians and he does make an astute observation in that there are more male comedians than female comedians. But, I have to disagree that this is due to men just being more funny than women. It’s also due to the fact that men have been able to be comedians for so much longer than women have. It’s only within the last 70 years that women have been given a voice and I am glad that they’re using it in a funny way.

However, I believe that there are still problems with the topics that women choose to use in comedy, specifically feminism. It’s not that I don’t believe in feminism, I definitely think that women can and should be equal to men, it’s just that I don’t like it being shoved down my throat constantly. As an audience member, I would be more likely to watch a stand-up comedian who talks about a variety of topics and who can make me laugh no matter what he/she is talking about than a comedian who can only talk about what’s wrong with the world/men, which a lot of the talking points of the feminist movement surround. I think DeAnne Smith did a wonderful job of this by being able to mix feminist topics with other jokes to make it more palatable for a wider audience. I also really appreciated her acknowledging that as soon as she started venturing into feminism territory she was quick to tie it to something that the people who didn’t approve of could laugh at. I think part of the reason that she needed to do this in the first place is because a lot of people would have that reaction when a comedian suddenly dives deep into feminism during a bit. In class, we were discussing about ways that feminist comedians can improve their act so that they can remove the “feminist killjoy” title. I think that following DeAnne’s format is the first step.

Fake News Is The Future

I’d be relatively unsurprised to later find out that my blog post for this week was the most viewed and read, not because of my stellar writing skills (which I assure you, they are far from stellar), but just because of my headline. Yes, it seems that nowadays in America the flashier headline always wins, even if it sacrifices the truth for entertainment.

This cosmic rise in “fake news” can be attributed to several factors. The immense power of the Internet has led to almost every person in the world is connected to one source which means that spreading a false news story can still reach millions of people and influence them. With huge social media sites like Facebook not doing a great job in providing a barrier from these sources and their articles, the opportunities for clickbait authors are endless. Another factor that must be looked at is the realization that the political environment in America is very polarized. Just like a magnet causes a dipole that separates positive and negative charges, a “magnate” has caused further division in America (feel free to use this whenever you need a crappy pun). Having Donald Trump as our President has caused a gap to widen between the left and right, so much so that the moderate population has started to thin. The enlarging of the gap has led to a more emotional tie to left and right such that sometimes logic isn’t the overlying basis behind a political opinion. Like the Samantha Bee video for this week shows, people on the right need their political ideologies validated in the form of a news story that proves that what they believe in is, well, right. What this video fails to show is that the same occurs for people on the left as well. Even though our President causes some outlandish stories to actually come true, there are still plenty of articles that falsely accuse him and members of the alt-right movement, especially Milo Yiannopoulos. The protests in Berkeley and the other countless disruptions at his events add to the problem. So in reality, while false articles tend to lean towards satisfying conservative appetites, the fake news sword is in fact double-edged.

This poses a problem for all Americans, Democrat or Republican. Our abandonment of logic has led to the lowering of our standard of journalism. We no longer care about the quality of the source, but rather if we like the headline or not. Whatever happened to unbiased journalism and reporting the facts? In my opinion, I think Americans need to take a step back and completely rethink the way we all discuss and ponder politics. We need to detach ourselves from our emotions and start thinking about policy in a logical sense. In that way, fake news and outrageous headlines won’t be distracting and the gap between the two parties can shrink. I know it is hard, especially in this current day and age, to be unemotional but it is imperative if we want to be able to fix journalism and how we view the news. This is just my view on how we can combat fake news, what are your strategies to fix this problem? How big of a factor are the weak restrictions implemented by social media outlets in the sudden rise of fake news?