Acting and Stand up comedy, across the globe, are slowly starting to come under the same banner. Although that can never be a problem, the fact that stand up comedians are also aiming to become actors might be a cause of concern for the traditional art of stand up comedy.
Speaking from a strictly purist stand point, it would be safe to assume that stand up comedy is all about being your real self on stage. And only people who actually are their real selves on stage manage to make it big in the industry.
George Carlin, Ricky Gervais, Louis CK and even Biswa Kalyan Rath for that matter are where they are because they just end up being themselves on stage, which is a completely new thing for audiences.
Often, stand up comedians are advised to be their original self on stage by experts of the field. And even though ‘being yourself is the best way to learn stand up’ might sound like a cliche, that remains the ultimate truth of the stand up industry.
Acting, on the other hand, is a completely contradicting art to stand up comedy in terms of its fundamentals. To be a successful actor, one must be able to let go of each and every aspect of his/her and adapt to the character he is playing.
Be it Morgan Freeman from Invictus or Nawazuddin Siddiqui from Gangs of Wasseypur, these actors are great because they convinced the world that they did not exist in the film. They convinced the audience that the guy they saw on screen was a person was actually a Mandela or a gangster from Dhanbad.
This is where my argument comes into play. As a comedian, a person must never let go of being himself, even for the silver screen. But if the comedian does let go of himself and plays a character in the film, and plays it brilliantly for that matter, he would never get back to the purist’s form of comedy again.
I am not saying that WILL ruin his comedy for certain. For all I know, it might end up being better. But that would ensure that every time the person goes out to do comedy, he will assume a character. He might say he is being ‘himself. But that ‘himself’ would be a character he cooked up in his mind with his characteristics and then play it out on stage. It is like wearing your own mask. Even though it looks like you, we can be certain there is something plastic about it.
Again, this post really doesn’t have a point or a supporting argument for any of these two sides. It is just an observation. And an observation, which I think often goes unnoticed. For if it is noticed, we might have a completely different take on both – acting and stand up.