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Discover the neuroscience behind comedy and learn how to master the art of comedic acting

By Faith Hibbs-Clark, Founder

"Funny People are everywhere." - Adam Sandler

Do you think you have comedic chops?

After 25 years of casting for film and television, and as a body language expert, I have found that the actors you least expect to be funny, are the funniest. Is this you?

In this quote by Adam Sandler, I am reminded that anyone can possess the gift of comedy. Yes! even you!

Comedic ability is not limited to a select few; instead, it resides within all of us. By tapping into the scientific principles that underlie comedy, you can unlock your own comedic potential and bring laughter to audiences worldwide.

In this article, I will share tips on the fascinating world of comedy from a neuroscience perspective and demonstrate how film actors can use body language expertise and professional guidance to master the art of comedic acting.

The Neuroscience of Comedy

Comedy, as it turns out, is not just a simple expression of amusement; it profoundly affects our brains and bodies. When we laugh, our brains release a cocktail of chemicals that contribute to feelings of joy and well-being. Dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins flood our bloodstream, replacing the stress-inducing cortisol and promoting a sense of happiness and relaxation.

Research has shown that laughter has a direct impact on our neural pathways and can even influence our brain structure. The social laughter that you create on-screen has been found to increase opioid release in the anterior insula and anterior cingulate, suggesting that laughter acts as a neurochemical mechanism to enhance social bonding.

Understanding the neuroscience of laughter provides valuable insights into the art of comedic acting. By tapping into the power of laughter, you can create genuine moments of hilarity that resonate with audiences. Whether it's timing your delivery for maximum impact, introducing unexpected twists, or customizing Acting Science Method ™️ comedic formulas to suit your style, you can leverage the science behind laughter to create unforgettable performances on screen.

Unlocking the Comedy Formulas

Many aspiring film actors falsely believe being naturally funny is a prerequisite for comedic success. However, with the guidance of a body language expert and professional casting director, comedy can be reverse-engineered and taught through accessible "formulas." These formulas provide a framework for you to understand the underlying mechanisms of comedy and apply them in auditions and on-set performances. By customizing these formulas to suit your unique style, you can develop your own individual comedic voice and confidently bring laughter to the screen.

Observing Body Language and Communication

As a body language expert and casting director, I have spent years meticulously observing the nuances of audience connection and laughter. By deciphering the intricacies of body language and communication, I have distilled actionable insights that can be shared with film actors seeking to excel in the realm of comedy. These observations, combined with the understanding of scientific principles, form the foundation for teaching you the art of comedy. But before you can learn my "Acting Science Method" comedic formulas, you must first understand these principles of humor:

1) Timing: The Comic Symphony

In the symphony of comedy, timing takes center stage. Just like a conductor expertly orchestrates the tempo of a piece, film actors must master the art of comedic timing. The perfect awkward pause, the well-timed punchline in the story formula, and the skillful use of silence combined with a dead stare can transform an ordinary scripted moment into uproarious laughter. Understanding the science of timing enables you to separate your visual performance from your vocal performance to create beats that can create comedic magic on screen

One noteworthy example of a comedic scene that cleverly employs awkward pauses for comedic timing occurs in the mall scene from the movie, "Superbad", where the two boys coincidentally encounter the two girls they have an interest in. As the scene unfolds, a series of casual and conversational exchanges take place, leading to a decision to switch partners and accompany their respective crushes. It is within this amusing exchange that the perfectly timed awkward pause in the dialogue comes into play, contributing to the comedic effect and enhancing the overall characterization.

2) Surprise: The Unexpected Twist

Comedy thrives on surprise. Unexpected twists, clever wordplay, and surprising outcomes have the power to catch audiences off guard and generate laughter. As you embrace the element of surprise, you keep your performances fresh and engage viewers in delightful and unexpected ways. Something as simple yet surprising as delivering a line with an opposite emotion or with exaggerated emotion can provide a delightful comedic twist.

One example of a comedic scene with an unexpected twist can be found in the popular TV show "Schitt's Creek." In a Season 2 episode, the character Moira Rose, played by Catherine O'Hara, has an emotional breakdown over her missing purse. As Moira frantically searches for her purse, her reaction escalates from mild frustration to a full-blown meltdown, exclaiming, "No, no, no, NOOO!" It's a hilariously unexpected response highlighting Moira's dramatic and eccentric personality.

This scene showcases the power of surprise in comedy. The unexpected twist of Moira's emotional breakdown over a missing purse takes a seemingly ordinary situation and turns it into a laugh-out-loud moment. It's a testament to Catherine O'Hara's comedic talent and the show's ability to deliver unexpected surprises to its audience.

3) Incongruity: When Opposites Collide

Incongruity lies at the heart of comedy. It involves the unexpected juxtaposition of ideas, situations, or characters. In the Acting Science Method ™️ I refer to it as Deviation from Normalcy. The brain is always predicting what is going to happen next logically, but when a situation creates a different response, it temporarily gives the brain a brief moment of relief from its constant survival instinct. By skillfully blending conflicting elements, you can create comedic gold. Embracing incongruity allows you to tap into the absurdity of life and present it in a way that resonates with audiences, generating laughter and leaving an indelible mark.

In the hit television show "The Office," incongruity plays a central role in creating comedic situations. One memorable example occurs in Season 3, Episode 15, titled "Phyllis' Wedding." During the wedding ceremony, the character Dwight Schrute (played by Rainn Wilson), who takes his job as Assistant Regional Manager very seriously, decides to perform an impromptu fire drill. This unexpected and disruptive action deviates from the normalcy of a wedding ceremony, causing confusion and chaos among the guests. The incongruity of Dwight's decision, juxtaposing a joyous event with a mock emergency, results in a hilarious outcome that leaves both the characters and the audience surprised and in stitches.

Crafting Your Unique Comedic Style

While hot-wiring your film and television auditions with my Acting Science comedy formulas will provide you with a solid framework for comedic acting, and an almost unfair advantage over your competition, it is essential for you to inject your own personality and style into your auditions and on-screen performances. This customization allows you to create a unique comedic voice that resonates with audiences. With my expert guidance, you can navigate the delicate balance between following established Acting Science Method ™️ comedy formulas and adding your own personal touch, resulting in performances that are both authentic and hilarious.

The Special Topics Workshop: Your Path to Comedic Greatness

Do you want to use science to unlock your own comedic potential? Join me for this month's special topics live on Zoom workshop, where you will be able to work with me to unlock your own comedic potential. As a body language expert and professional casting director, this workshop offers comprehensive training on the neuroscience behind the comedy, the art of timing and surprise, and the customization of 10 comedic formulas. Join me on this transformative journey, and let the science of comedy guide you toward comedic greatness.

"Funny People are everywhere." - Adam Sandler

With these inspiring words from Adam Sandler, we are reminded that comedy is within reach for all film actors. By understanding the neuroscience behind comedy, learning proven Acting Science Method ™️ comedic formulas, and customizing them to create individual comedic styles, you will have your audience in stitches

About Faith Hibbs-Clark

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.

1 day special topics class - August 29th only

Updated: Jul 23

By Faith Hibbs-Clark

Building Your Acting Career: The Power of Small Roles and How They Can Boost Your Success

As a casting director with over 25 years of experience, a body language expert, and a celebrity acting coach, I understand the challenges that aspiring film and television actors face when breaking into the industry. One crucial piece of advice I give to newcomers is to embrace small roles, such as day player roles, 1-liners, under-fives, and co-star roles.

In this blog post, I'll share the importance of these roles, how they can be financially lucrative, and examples of famous actors who started with small parts. Plus, I'll be promoting an upcoming workshop that could help you nail those crucial 1-liners!

The Importance of Small Roles

When you're starting out, it's essential to gain as much experience as possible to build your resume and showcase your talent. Small roles, although they might seem insignificant at first, can provide you with valuable opportunities to:

  1. Gain experience and hone your acting skills.

  2. Network with other actors, directors, and industry professionals.

  3. Build your acting reel with diverse scenes and characters.

  4. Show casting directors that you're versatile and adaptable.

Furthermore, these small roles can also be financially lucrative. For example, Kelsey Grammer, who played Dr. Frasier Crane in Cheers and later starred in the spin-off series Frasier, reportedly made millions in residual payments from both shows. Even though his role in Cheers was relatively small initially, it led to substantial earnings over time.

A student of mine landed a day player role on the hit TV show Friends. Although the initial payment for the appearance might have been a few thousand dollars, the enduring popularity of Friends means that he would continue to receive residual payments over the years, adding up to a decent income.

As the famous actor Johnny Depp once said, "I think everybody should take whatever job they can get and build from there." This quote perfectly illustrates the importance of taking small roles and using them as stepping stones to build a successful acting career.

Nail the 1-Liners Workshop

If you're looking to improve your skills and increase your chances of landing those small but crucial roles, I highly recommend attending the CMFA "Acting Science" special topics class, "Mastering the 1-Liner Audition" workshop on July 25th, 2023. This workshop will provide you with invaluable techniques and tips to make the most of your 1-liner auditions and help you stand out in the casting process.

In conclusion, I encourage aspiring actors to embrace the opportunities that small roles offer. They can be pivotal in building your acting career, both in terms of experience and financial gain. Are you ready to take the next step toward success in the film and television industry? Your investment of just $99 will get you 2.5 hours live with me online in a small group setting, a chance to perform with feedback, recording, and materials to keep for future reference.

Group Workshop information, $99 or $75 on subscription

Private sessions online if you can't make the group class. $150

About Faith Hibbs-Clark

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.

By Faith Hibbs-Clark

Hello, lovely actors! I've heard from many of you who are understandably concerned about the ongoing writers' strike and now the SAGAFTRA strike. Let's take a moment to reflect on the previous strike and discuss some proactive measures you can take to navigate these uncertain times successfully.

I have compiled a list of 40 things you can do during the strike, complete with links to keep you busy during the strike, so roll up your sleeves and let's get started.

I have been in this industry long enough to remember the last major WGA strike. It took place from November 5, 2007, to February 12, 2008. Disputes over compensation for digital content distribution and residuals for reruns, among other issues, caused the strike. This strike had a significant impact on the entertainment industry, with many television shows experiencing shortened seasons, delays, or cancellations.

Fast forward to now, as the SAG-AFTRA union joins the fight. I believe it is crucial for the SAG-AFTRA union to support the writers' strike, as they share a common goal of fair compensation and working conditions within the entertainment industry. Solidarity between unions can send a powerful message to studios and producers, emphasizing the need for equitable treatment and valuing creative talent.

SAG-AFTRA hasn't initiated a strike since before the union merged in 2012. However, its previous components, the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, have participated in multiple strikes over the years. The most recent action, a joint strike lasting six months in 2000, marked the longest entertainment industry strike in history.

To get the latest information, I would recommend visiting reputable news sources or the official WGA website for updates and statements from industry leaders. The most important thing you can do right now is to support the union and this cause.

40 Things Actors Can Do to Stay Busy

Complete with Links 🖇️

  1. Network with industry professionals: Join professional networking sites like Stage 32 or attend virtual events hosted by organizations such as SAG-AFTRA to connect with fellow actors, directors, and producers. Here are some independent film organizations that actors may consider joining to expand their network, access resources, and gain support. IFP (Independent Filmmaker Project) A member-driven organization that supports independent filmmakers through mentorship, networking, and educational programs.Film Independent: Dedicated to promoting and supporting independent filmmakers and artists, offering various resources, including industry events, workshops, and mentorship programs Sundance Institute: Known for its annual Sundance Film Festival, the institute also provides year-round support for independent filmmakers through grants, labs, and Raindance: A UK-based independent film organization offering training courses, networking events, and organizing the Raindance Film Festival. Women in Film: An organization focused on advocating for and advancing the careers of women working in the screen industries, providing resources, mentorship, and networking opportunities. Austin Film Society: A Texas-based non-profit organization that supports independent filmmakers through grants, screenings, and various educational programs. New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT): A membership organization that supports women in the entertainment industry by providing networking events, workshops, and seminars. The Directors Guild of America (DGA): A labor organization representing the interests of film and television directors, offering support, resources, and advocacy for its members. ( The Producers Guild of America (PGA): A non-profit trade organization representing, protecting, and promoting the interests of producers and the producing team in film, television, and new media.

  2. Create self-produced content: Follow the example of web series like The Guild or High Maintenance and create your own short films or web series. Use platforms like Vimeo or YouTube to showcase your work. "The Guild," created by and starring Felicia Day, gained a large following and helped launch her career. Some actors are even able to utilize these projects to get union eligibility.

  3. Volunteer for student projects: Look for collaboration opportunities on film school websites such as NYU Tisch or USC School of Cinematic Arts or AFI Conservatory or LFS: London Film School or NYFA: New York Film Academy or VFS: Vancouver Film School

  4. Work on your memorization skills: Memorization is a skill that has to be worked on. Try my 28-day self-paced Science of Memorization Course.

  5. Participate in script readings: Join virtual script reading groups on platforms like Meetup or Facebook Groups.

  6. Engage with your fans: Utilize social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to interact with your audience and build a supportive community.

  7. Research upcoming projects: Stay ahead of the curve by researching projects in development on websites like IMDbPro and Production Weekly. Find out what is IN DEVELOPMENT.

  8. Read plays and screenplays: Access scripts through resources like New Play Exchange or SimplyScripts.

  9. Stay connected with your agent or manager: Maintain open communication with your representation using email, phone calls, or video conferencing tools like Zoom, depending on their preference. Ask them for a talent report and analyze the types of jobs you have been getting.

  10. Develop a podcast or YouTube channel: Use podcast hosting platforms like Anchor or Buzzsprout to create audio content, or upload videos to your own YouTube channel.

  11. Attend film festivals and industry events: Participate in virtual or in-person film festivals like Sundance Film Festival or Cannes Film Festival.

  12. Attend the CMFA Film Acting Retreat in France: This is a great time to travel and learn The Acting Science Method without guilt. September 11-19th 2023.

  13. Explore screenwriting: Try your hand at writing or producing by submitting work to competitions like Austin Film Festival Screenwriting Competition or The PAGE International Screenwriting Awards, or The Nicholl Fellowship or Scriptapalooza to gain exposure and recognition.

  14. Practice accent and dialect work: Use resources like IDEA: International Dialects of English Archive to learn and perfect various accents and dialects.

  15. Learn the Acting Science Method: If you have studied other methods, this will be unlike any other method and it is specifically designed for auditioning for films. The Acting Science Method is all about science and is best for actors with high emotional intelligence.

  16. Seek out commercial modeling and print opportunities: Search for commercial modeling and print modeling jobs on websites like Casting Networks or Model Mayhem. Print and modeling work is not in the union's jurisdiction.

  17. Produce and star in your own films: Follow the example of successful self-produced films like Blue Jay or Tangerine, using platforms like FilmFreeway to submit your work to film festivals.

  18. Utilize free filmmaking resources: Take advantage of free online tools like DaVinci Resolve for video editing or Incompetech for royalty-free music.

  19. Attend free industry workshops and panels: Participate in virtual or in-person workshops and panel discussions hosted by organizations like SAG-AFTRA Foundation or The Actors Fund.

  20. Create a demo reel: Compile your best work into a demo reel using video editing software like Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro. Showcase your reel on your website or social media profiles.

  21. Develop a personal brand: Reflect on your unique qualities and strengths as an actor, and create a consistent image and message across your online presence and promotional materials.

  22. Create a mailing list: Build an email list of industry contacts, fans, and supporters using services like Mailchimp or ConvertKit to keep them updated on your projects and achievements.

  23. Get involved with local arts organizations: Volunteer or participate in events organized by local arts councils or theater companies to stay connected and contribute to your community. The Actors' Gang Prison Project or Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

  24. Create a professional email signature: Design a professional email signature using tools like WiseStamp or Newoldstamp to include in your correspondence with industry professionals. Be sure to put a link to your IMDB score to boost your ranking.

  25. Research acting grants and scholarships: Explore funding opportunities from organizations like The Princess Grace Foundation or The Actors Fund. The National Endowment for the Arts or Theatre Communications Group to support your acting projects.

  26. Write a personal mission statement: Craft a personal mission statement that outlines your values, goals, and vision as an actor, guiding your decision-making and career choices.

  27. Learn about entertainment law: Familiarize yourself with legal aspects of the industry, such as contracts and intellectual property, through resources like Entertainment Law Resources or The Pocket Lawyer for Filmmakers.

  28. Explore international acting opportunities: Research acting opportunities in other countries or markets, such as the UK or Canada, and consider expanding your career globally.

  29. Subscribe to industry trade publications: Stay informed on industry news and trends by subscribing to trade publications like The Hollywood Reporter or Backstage.

  30. Learn about film financing: Educate yourself on film financing strategies and resources, such as crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, or explore books like The Film Finance Handbook.

  31. Explore opportunities in animation and motion capture: Research job opportunities in animation and motion capture, using resources like Animation World Network or Motion Capture Society.

  32. Create a one-person show: Write and perform a one-person show, showcasing your unique talents and perspectives, and share it through virtual performances or local venues.

  33. Develop your personal style: Cultivate a personal style that reflects your personality and acting brand, ensuring you make a memorable impression at auditions and industry events.

  34. Participate in 48-hour film challenges: Take part in time-limited film challenges like The 48-Hour Film Project or Four Points Film Project to collaborate with fellow creatives and produce short films.

  35. Create a press kit: Compile a digital press kit containing your headshots, resume, demo reel, and any press coverage to share with industry professionals and media outlets.

  36. Explore opportunities in educational and industrial films: Research job opportunities in educational or industrial films, which can provide valuable experience and income during periods of limited mainstream acting work. You can find out who does them by reaching out to your local production association or film office.

  37. Collaborate on social impact projects: Partner with non-profit organizations or social impact initiatives to use your acting talents for raising awareness or advocating for important causes.

  38. Update and improve your IMDb profile: Set up an IMDb profile to showcase your acting credits and make it easier for industry professionals to find and research your work. Self add any missing projects.

  39. Learn about film distribution: Educate yourself on film distribution strategies through resources like Film Distribution: New Rules for Selling Your Film or Distribution U.

  40. Explore opportunities in virtual reality and immersive theater: Research job opportunities in emerging fields like virtual reality or immersive theater, which can provide unique acting experiences and expand your skill set.

Want to connect with me one-on-one? Schedule a private session so I can help you form a plan to navigate these uncertain times.

In the words of the legendary Sir Michael Caine, "Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath."

Remember this powerful quote from this legendary actor. Like a duck, we may need to appear calm on the surface, but underneath, we're tirelessly working, pushing through the currents.

It's okay to feel worried or anxious. But don't let these feelings deter you from your passion. Keep learning, keep growing, and most importantly, keep acting.

Your dedication and perseverance will see you through these troubled waters. Stay strong, keep paddling, and let's face the future together! 👊

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