“Truth In Comedy” Quotes

I recently read “Truth in Comedy” by Del Close and Charna Halpern, the founders of improvisational comedy and thought I’d post my favorite quotes from it.

truth in comedy

“The truth is funny. Honest discovery, observation, and reaction is better than contrived invention.” (15)

“When we’re relaxing, we don’t have to entertain each other with jokes. And when we’re simply being ourselves up to each other and being honest, we’re usually funniest.” (15)

“Where do the really best laughs come from? Terrific connections made intellectually, or terrific revelations made emotionally.” (25)

“Many actors don’t understand the difference between a joke and a laugh. A joke is only one way – and seldom the best way – to get a laugh; jokes can get laughs but, obviously, laughs don’t always result from jokes.” (26)

“A comedian who tells jokes is basically a salesman, trying to sell the audience a clever story or punch line, while hoping to be paid back in laughter.” (27)

“When players worry that a scene isn’t funny, they may resort to jokes. This usually guarantees the scene won’t be funny.” (27)

“The situation is similar to a relationship between a man and a woman – the more they talk about it, the less time they spend on it.” (28)

“The audience laughs at agreement – a secret of comedy that very few people realize.” (51)

“Improv is much closer to ping pong than it is to chess. Actors create an improv scene in the same spontaneous way.” (71)

“You should always assume that the audience is one step ahead of you.” (72)

“If everyone justifies everyone else’s actions, there are no mistakes.” (73)

“A scene is almost never about what the players think it’s going to be about.” (73)

“No matter what the setup, however, the event is crucial to every scene – the situation that makes this day different from all the rest. This is where the action begins.” (81-82)

“Del said, ‘We don’t care if it works for the audience – it has to work for us,’ “ (83)

“The only real mistake here is ignoring the inner voice.” (91)

“After an improviser learns to trust and follow his own inner voice, he begins to do the same with his fellow players’ inner voices. Once he puts his own ego out of the way, he stops judging the ideas of others – instead, he considers them brilliant, and eagerly follows them!” (92)

“They always accept the ideas of the other players without judging them to be “good” or “bad,” always thinking, “This is now our idea.” (93)

“Objects in a scene are there to help lead a player who feels stuck. They should prompt the improviser to discover, rather than invent.” (104)

“Experienced performers learn that their dialog isn’t about their activity. Instead, the lines should be saved for the relationship with the other player.” (107)

If you liked the quotes, please buy the book here.

7 Responses to ““Truth In Comedy” Quotes”

  1. Raffi Wakefield says:

    Sounds taoistic and frankly kind of useless, but maybe you’re getting more out of this, practically speaking, than I would by not actively practicing comedy.

  2. Marcellus Grant says:

    I think this book is amazing and undeniably helpful to all engaging in the art of improvisational theatre!

  3. David says:

    Ben – Good quotes. I really liked this book too. Check out Impro. If TiC is the Bible, Impro is the Tao Te Ching. BTW, liked your standup videos too.

  4. […] group “The Harold”) works. While this is a book devoted to generating laughter, many of its principles and methods highlight group dynamics applicable to situations far beyond the comedy […]

  5. […] group “The Harold”) works. While this is a book devoted to generating laughter, many of its principles and methods highlight group dynamics applicable to situations far beyond the comedy […]

  6. […] And here’s where the ‘truth’ of improvised comedy comes from: “Where do the really best laughs come from? Terrific connections made intellectually, or terrific revelations made emotionally.” (Del Close, ‘Truth in Comedy’) […]

  7. […] Rosenfeld quotes from the book Truth in Comedy, couple of them […]

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