We asked the Improvisational Repertory Theatre Ensemble: What’s funny and how do you BE funny.


STARTING TOMORROW, the multi-award winning improv troupe brings us back to our childhood with their season opener, THE SENSE-ATIONS!.
A cross between your favorite Saturday morning cartoon and your favorite Marvel superhero, the Sense-ations fight evil and break hearts, while saving the world from giant robots or death-ray attacks. In the tradition of Saturday Night Live, IRTE features special musical guests. Parental discretion is advised as Improv can be -well- spontaneous. 

March 17, 18, 24 & 25 @ 8:00pm
The Producers Club, 358 West 44th Street, NYC

Baumgardner_Robert_vert_webRobert Baumgardner (IRTE Main Ensemble)

What’s funny? Lot’s of things are funny, and lots of people are funny in different ways. Even when you focus on just the craft of improv, this sentence is true. Some people are funny because they’re very good at word play. They see surprising connections in the moment. Others hold your attention, and make you laugh with their physicality alone, whether it’s a made up dialect, or a funny way of doing something.

How do you be funny? How do I be funny? It’s hard for me to pin point. Years of acting and performing have shown me that I can do a dead pan response with pretty good results. I’ve also gotten laughs by playing the hyper-anxious scaredy cat. Partly, it depends on the role whether one type of approach works better than another. I just have to experiment and experiment to find the funny. Lots of experiments don’t work, but when one does, it’s like finding fire in the wilderness. With improv, it’s all experimentation, and if you’re doing it right, you have no idea whether it’s going to be funny until you try it. I think that’s part of the appeal of improv, and acting. You’re walking through an unexplored wilderness, and when you find that fire, it’s an achievement like no other.


Bill BergBill Berg (IRTE Main Ensemble)

I have no f-ing idea! I pretty much just copy what other people are doing that seems to get a laugh. No, really, funny and how to do it is not very easy to define (at least not for me). I think, for one thing, what’s funny comes out of what’s unexpected, but it also has to come from the truth. What usually makes me laugh the most is something that both surprises me and rings deeply true. For instance, in a scene or a story, I may be following the action or the storyline down a particular path, thinking that it’s going somewhere familiar, and then – BAM! – it’ll suddenly take an unexpected turn and reveal something very honest that resonates as true for me. Then I’ll have a big laugh. So, I suppose, when I’m onstage performing what is intended to be comedy, I find it easiest to be funny by not trying to be funny, but to be true to the moment, be honest about what I’m feeling, and to allow myself to go some place that even I didn’t expect. Human beings are pretty funny naturally, so I think the best thing is to get out of the way and let the funny shine through.

Curt DixonCurt Dixon (IRTE Main Ensemble)

Funny is so hard to define because what makes one person laugh might not seem funny at all to another person. I personally am not a fan of very dry humor but can certainly respect it. But I can laugh at really dark humor that other people find distasteful. It’s like food. Some people like sushi and others – like myself – hate it. When I’m performing I do what I think would make me laugh. I tend to gravitate to the odd or silly. I like to keep it more light hearted and try to play smart. But I do like to make people squirm a bit. I try not to get too dark or use a lot of profanity because you never know who is in the audience. Even with an all adult audience it can make people uncomfortable if the language is crass and the subject matter vulgar. And once you lose your audience it doesn’t matter how funny you are.

Jamie Maloney 2Jamie Maloney (IRTE Main Ensemble)

In my life I’ve tried to be funny. I’ve come up with lines and stories that I thought were hilarious, but when I tried them out on people I got nothing. Maybe crickets. Five minutes later I would make an off hand comment about something and people would fall down laughing, and I don’t know what I said. The biggest laughs I’ve ever gotten were when I wasn’t trying to be funny at all. I’m sure there are people who have analyzed the phenomenon of comedy and laughter and figured out exactly why things are funny but I’m willing to bet they still have the same experience that I do. I’ve sat in a crowded theater and been the only person not laughing and peed my pants at the sight of someone putting on a pair of glasses. I do best when I don’t think about it, and thinking about it is sure to jinx it for me, so in all honesty I have absolutely no idea how to be funny.

evie aronson dec 2013 (1)Evie Aronson (GIRTE – Guest performer of IRTE)

The truth is funny. You can be funny by saying what others might be thinking, but wouldn’t  say out loud. In improv, sometimes stating the obvious is the funniest thing.  Being in the moment, listening and reacting without trying to think of something “funny”  is the way to  be the funniest… In those moments you share a special inside joke with the audience that only happens in that moment. It  often can’t be replicated.





Michael Hauschild (1)


Michael Hauschild (GIRTE – Guest performer of IRTE)

Truth [is funny] and don’t try to be [funny].




Brianna Lee (GIRTE – Guest performer of IRTE)

Something very funny is usually just a truth about human behavior or every day life exaggerated, heightened and exposed. I get my funny on when I let whatever wants to come out with full force- whether it be a voice or character, or anything else that resides in the Silly Town that is my brain!

Tara Sargente (GIRTE – Guest performer of IRTE)

Funny is being surprised. It’s the left hook you didn’t see coming. So even if you want to sit there all jaded and too cool, something crazy just comes out of nowhere and tickles you beyond resistance. My gift funny-wise is probably that my mind easily goes to dark places that most people avoid, and I return with unique little mental treasures. Things then go through the very broken filter that is my brain and come out delightfully twisted. This usually leads to an odd laughter that makes you feel a little dirty.

Tara Sargente







It also helps that my life is a joke.


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