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Checking out the other actors in the lobby before auditions is potentially dangerous to a performer’s self-confidence. If you overly concern yourself with the competition, you just might find yourself second-guessing a wardrobe choice, your look, your read, or your take on the part altogether. And entering the audition room riddled with self-doubt is not the way to go!
But this human tendency to compare oneself to others has plagued many of the best performers at various points in their careers. Take, for instance, Saturday Night Live comedian Bill Hader. SNL auditions require the performers to come up with six minutes’ worth of material, and Hader prepared for the challenge in his unique way. But as he went in for the audition, another comedian caught his eye. As he puts it:
“I remember getting into the elevator at 30 Rock next to a guy who had tons of props. It was Andy Samberg. I was really nervous because I hadn’t brought props, but later Andy said he was looking at me, going, ‘Oh man, that guy doesn’t need props!’”
Turns out the two comedians were both super talented in their own unique ways, and both were worthy of the show. So, this story serves as a reminder to drop the insecurities, and instead appreciate and fully own your authenticity! If something works for you, then go with it.
Are you funny? Can you be funny? Can you be cast on a sitcom?
Do you have acting training, comedic instincts and what it takes to create a character, follow the sitcom formula and make casting directors, producers, directors and audiences laugh and love you? Not everybody can. Why? Because this thing called comedy is a lot harder than it looks.
Sitcom acting—being funny—is, well, a serious craft. The world of sitcoms comes with its own set of rules, its own rhythm, its own pace. Guess whose job it is to grasp this very specific format. That’s right. Yours!
This comedic formula has been passed down from generation to generation, and it’s up to the actor, to not only be able to recognize this formula, but also to embrace it and follow it…to the LETTER. Then, you have to make it funny! Sitcom acting requires you to follow a very specific technique. It requires you to be energetic, articulate and to commit to the character, the dialogue, the jokes and the interaction with other characters.
Are you scared yet? Don’t worry. If you are disciplined and if you practice, practice, practice, you can work in this incredibly rewarding industry.
The first step to becoming a successful sitcom actor is having an innate ability to act and the training to develop that talent. As an acting coach, I cannot teach someone to act if they are not born with the talent to act. No acting coach can. I call this innate ability the Acting Gene. And, yes, I know it’s not “technically” a gene (but I’m sure they’ll discover it soon). Rather, it’s your inborn, intuitive ability to act or to pretend. A good acting coach can help you tap into this gene, discover (and uncover) your gift and teach you techniques that will help you access your emotions and your imagination.
The second step to becoming a successful sitcom actor is having an innate ability to be funny. Do you have a sense of humor about yourself? Do you have a sense of humor about others? Can you find the funny in the trials and tribulations of your everyday life?
To the left of the Acting Gene is the Funny Gene (yeah, another made-up word). If you have the Funny Gene, no matter how developed it is, I can teach you to be a sitcom actor. It’s like any other skill. You need to have a physical gift to play basketball, a good ear to play the violin, a keen mind to be a mathematician, or a green thumb to be a gardener. Like any craft, it won’t be easy. But once you learn rules of comedy, and get a character that suits you best, you’ll have fun and get many well-deserved laughs in reruns!
Whether you’re auditioning for a co-star or a series regular on a half hour comedy, sitcom guru and acting coach Scott Sedita will teach you The Sedita Method of sitcom acting, which comes with it’s own terminology, coined phrases and unique glossary.
Scott’s internationally best-selling book, “The Eight Characters of Comedy. A Guide to Sitcom Acting & Writing, 2nd Edition” has sold over 100,000 copies and has become a “bible” to Hollywood comedy writers, directors, producers, and actors; and is used as a textbook in over 100 colleges and universities. Find Scott and his staff of professional actors, teachers and coaches at ScottSeditaActing.com.