Everyone knows that the key to a successful pantomime is a lot of side-splitting comedy. And there’s nothing worse than a joke that goes down like a lead balloon. Here’s my top tips to keep your pantomime script brimming with comic potential.
1. Pace Yourself
Delivering a punchline successfully is often the key to a good bit of comedy. You have to time it right. Don’t leave it too long, don’t leave it too short and don’t let the punchline drag. And don’t forget, pace is not the same thing as speed – speed is how quickly you say the line/word, pace is how small the gaps are between the lines/words.
2. Don’t play for laughs
This is one of the most common mistakes I come across in bad comedy. There are some exceptions to the rule, but generally don’t play for laughs. What do I mean by this? Don’t deliver your line with the express intention of making the audience laugh. If you do this, they may well giggle but not nearly as much as if they hadn’t been prompted by you.
Many a punchline is ruined by tripping over the words or mumbling the delivery. Make sure your punchline is strong, clear and has good diction. That way, the deliver will be up-beat and punchy which is exactly what you need.
4. Don’t laugh at your own jokes
Another one with exceptions to the rule. Sometimes it can work to great comic effect to break character and laugh, especially in a pantomime. But rarely at your own joke. Play the situation striaght and let the audience do the laughing! This is sure to get you the best impact.
5. Ride your laugh
Laughs and applause are like waves. They begin, they have a middle, a climax and an end. The trick is to continue the action a split second after the climax. That way, the audience are starting to calm down a bit and ready to listen. Cut them off too early and they won’t laugh/clap again, too late and dead air seeps in sucking all the energy out of the scene. It’s a fine art, but once you’ve got it, you’re onto a winner.