I invariably think I'm writing deep, meaningful dramas that will move the audience to copious tears and a realization of life in all its complexity and glory. Thus, I inevitably write comedy. In order to avoid writing comedy, I make sure to end every play in the death or destruction of something or someone, thus ensuring the play fits the description of a tragedy, not a comedy. And when I do so, I often construct the destruction of the thing that clears the way for a marriage or union of something else, ensuring the play is, indeed, a comedy.

You see, I'm truly a deep, morbid, brooding soul and I'm going to write characters full of emptiness, pain, suffering, and desperation. When the writing is going particularly well, I find the center bits of a character and am moved myself by something they say, do, or a horrible thing that happens to them that makes me really care, really get them. I'll run into a windowless room or hide under my desk for a while. This is how I expect the audience to respond as well.

Turns out, these are the few bulletproof comic moments in my work. In readings, when I would get my real, genuine laughs at these exact moments, I became really confused and even tried to rewrite some of them to make them less comic and more what they were supposed to be--you fucking idiots are supposed to feel the way I did when writing. If I wanted you to laugh, I'd have somebody stub their toe or fall down over and over again.

You can probably see where this is going--Avenue Q ensured that every living, breathing soul knows what Shadenfreude is. It's the pain and the desperation that we recognize enough to laugh at and it’s a dynamic thing when you create that, even and especially when that wasn’t the plan. When you are the writer, though, it's often not so clear or comprehensible and you may find yourself doing what I have done--forcing the good parts out of the work.

The thing to understand is your response to the work is reflective of the same kind of connection the actor should have with your character, not the audience's. That's why actors shouldn't play funny any more than you should try to write funny. This is one of the most concrete instances I have that explain why we say 'Playwriting is acting on the page.' When you have a better understanding that your job isn't the audience's job, you will suck far less.

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