About one of the hardest things to do is to pitch a story to anyone…even to a friend. And to pitch it well so that’s worth his/her time, it’s enterntaining, has impact, goes somewhere with it, etc. Stand-Up comedians are basically pitching stories constantly. Some a lot better than other ones, and really with no effort almost. They take the most mundane boring things going on in life, and turn it around 180 degrees into something either profound, hilarious or simply a lot more interesting than the original topic itself. Take this bit off a Bill Cosby routine:

Bill Cosby talks about Dentists. I chose the portion of the anesthesia and the facial reaction. What I enjoy /observed from this is the following:

  • Sometimes humor can be subjective and work for some people and not work for others. Bill Cosby would work very funny situations along with his sometimes dead pan facial expressions. When he says: “Now the dentist pulls out a needle”. This gesture he does showing the size of the needle (being a needle a tiny object) added with his facial expression is what made that work for me.
  • His slow pace telling the story of the doctor giving the anesthesia shot is contrasted with the extreme reactions of him as a patient. The use of contrast is really good as he’s using the full body in pretty funny ways, and the timing is also contrasted.
  • This contrast is also heightened by the conversation doctor-patient he’s using.
  • He stretches the moment. Sometimes a gag/joke can be enjoyed for longer. So he’s stretching his anesthesia moment up until when him as a doctor goes “yes I’ve been there many times myself” which is another funny reversal in itself.
  • “This will suck up your face”. Once again, his dead pan expression when saying such enormous yet funny exageration is great.
  • From that point on, the whole section of the face sliding is just pure great facial expressions all along.

It’s hard sometimes to make the connection of why things like these apply to us animators, but they certainly apply. Storytellers, in this case stand-up comedians, also do what we as animators do. Take something simple (be it an action, a gesture, a situation, etc), analyze it, study it, and get something unique out of it. In some ways, we are looking for ways to caricaturize life. As animators, we should also do that. Pay attention to those things that perhaps have no importance, and bring something out of it.

Carlos.