The Laughs


Since sound mixing is the last step in the process of making a film it fell to me, as the sound assistant, to get the tapes from the vault to the projection booth. I was anxious to get this done early enough so that the protectionist could test them if needs be, which left me with an hour or so of downtime before the actual screening began.

I elected to spend this hour on a secluded bench near the theatre. I was tied and I’ve been fighting a cold and the thought of even light social activity felt like more work than I had the energy for. Campus was alive with the sounds of preparation for the coming graduation ceremonies and all I could see was event tents in all directions, as far as the eye could see. It occurred to me that set this time next year these graduation preparations will be for my own graduation. It still seemed like a long way away. Looking back, I tried to remember how I’d felt at this time last year when I had been screening my intermediate film. That felt like a lifetime ago. I recall feeling tired and elated and uncertain about my summer. Who knew that the year would have so much in store for me? Certainly not me myself.

In retrospect, the uncertainty about my summer seems silly: I was worried that I wouldn’t have anything to do and that no one was taking me seriously as a filmmaker because everyone else seemed to have projects and internships in the works and I didn’t. Clearly this feeling didn’t last long, but at the time it seemed very real. This summer I have a lot less worry about what I’m going to do for the summer, but now my worry is beginning to shift towards a fear that I still might not have what it takes to pursue what I’m really interested in: comedy.

I suspect that the hardest part about learning comedy is the fact that there’s no halfway to funny: you either get the laugh or you don’t. There is, however, a LOT of halfway in learning, so I find myself working very hard and still sitting in a room of silence during the screening writhing in doubt. Was it not funny? Why did no one laugh? Did I not do it justice? Was it the writing? Was it the directing? Was it just the wrong audience?

The worst is when someone goes: “Oh- it’s supposed to be a comedy?”

I’ve gotten that one a lot.

The worst part is that the less laughter I get for my own work, the more covetous I become of my laughter for other people’s work: as if I will somehow make my own work funnier by hoarding my laughter.

I live in hope that this is just a phase. I hope that this is just a factor of being new to comedy and generally still feeling my way around the machinery that makes it work. Or perhaps I’m fighting destiny and someday will look back and find my comedic aspirations to be absurd. But I hope not.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on May 9, 2015.

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