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Unveiling the Science Secrets Behind Comedic Auditions

By Faith Hibbs-Clark, Casting Director & body language expert

When it comes to unraveling the mystery of humor, there are many opinions but my definition takes a more scientific approach. One underlying principle emerges as the driving force behind our laughter: the deviation from normalcy.

At the core of all humor lies this simple yet profound concept - stepping away from the ordinary, the expected, and the mundane. In essence, normalcy represents survival, the status quo that we navigate daily.

But, when we break free from this survival mode, allowing ourselves to embrace the unexpected, relax, and simply be, our brains reward us with a flood of dopamine - the feel-good neurotransmitter and making comedy possible.

Think about it - laughter truly is the best medicine. As the age-old adage goes, humor has a unique ability to uplift our spirits and transport us to a realm of joy and lightness. This phenomenon is deeply rooted in the brain's response to deviation from the norm. When we engage in activities that challenge the expected, such as sharing jokes, watching a comedy show, or enjoying a hilarious movie, our brains revel in the newfound dopamine rush.

Our brains are wired to seek out these moments of delight, actively pursuing situations that deviate from the norm to reap the rewards of dopamine. It's no wonder we gravitate towards comedy - it's a direct pathway to that coveted bucket full of dopamine that leaves us feeling elated and content.

As actors, understanding this fundamental aspect of human nature can be a game-changer in your auditions. When you step in front of the camera, your mission transcends mere performance; you become a purveyor of joy, a facilitator of dopamine rushes for your receiver.

Your ability to tap into the power of deviation from normalcy, to infuse your auditions with elements of surprise and unexpectedness, is what sets you apart as a pro.

Take, for example, the classic banana peel slip scenario. Is it normal to walk? Absolutely. Is it normal to walk and suddenly find yourself slipping on a banana peel? Definitely not. This deviation from the expected outcome sparks humor because it disrupts the ordinary and triggers that delightful rush of dopamine in our brains. Providing that nobody is really hurt, this unexpected reaction is dopamine-producing.

But, my study of what makes an actor funny in an audition, does not end there. Remember that I started as a body language expert who transitioned into casting. I had the unique advantage of knowing the science and then being able to watch hundreds of thousands of actors audition over the course of my 25 years of casting. In doing this, I was able to isolate certain behaviors in auditions that got a laughter response. I put those behaviors into categories to organize them and then from that, I was able to identify dozens of "easy-to-use" comedy formulas that actors can use to fast-forward their training to get the comedic edge in their auditions.

Want to learn more? Want to make it easy? Want me to personally help you in a live small group class from the comfort of your home?

Dive deeper into the science of humor with my exclusive class on "Comedy Formulas for Auditions."

This class is only taught twice per year and the next one starts April 28th and runs through May 19th but if you miss that one, email me to get on the wait list for the next one. Class sizes are small and fill up fast.

Sign up for the Comedy Formulas for Auditions class here and embark on a journey to unlock the science secrets of comedic success in auditions.


Faith is a body language expert who specialized in deception detection before becoming a casting director and working in the film industry for over 25 years. She is the founder of the Communication Method for Actors, LLC & the creator of the Acting Science Method ™. 

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