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Seeking Physical Comedy Moments For Women (ex: Cartoon bird tweets after a head bonk)

  • 1.  Seeking Physical Comedy Moments For Women (ex: Cartoon bird tweets after a head bonk)

    Posted 02-21-2019 07:06
    Edited by Martha Doll 06-22-2019 03:39
    Hello!

    I've been working with a group of youths. We've been exploring TVTropes page. The girls have requested more roles with physical comedy as they feel too often those bits are relegated to male characters. I an seeking plays or skits with moments like this. Especially a "Frying pan" or banana peel slip or other head trauma that results in a dizziness or knock out and even moreso if accompanied by the classic "tweeting birds" sfx. They want to do that but...

    This has proven to be difficult as the only plays I've encountered with similar type of reaction from a female character are Suite Surrender and the Play That Goes Wrong. In both instances it's a door that knocks them out. The productions I've seen did not use that sound effect but Suite Surrender does say in the stage directions that it's as if "Cartoon birds are floating around her head." This trope page even exhibits the fact that this trope is rare and falls on men. Theater / Circling Birdies - TV Tropes
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    Theater / Circling Birdies - TV Tropes
    The stage musical version of The Lion King invokes this trope. At the end of I Just Can't Wait to be King, the actor playing Zazu notices his bird puppet is gone. He asks, "Where is my bird?" before running smack into the wall at the side of the ...
    View this on TV Tropes >

    I'm hopeful somebody could help us. And by the way there's an entire trope that sums up the idea of women not being scripted as often in these ways -- Immune to Slapstick - TV Tropes
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    Immune to Slapstick - TV Tropes
    There are some characters who just won't be part of the gag. They won't indignify themselves with zany acting, they won't take a pratfall on that banana peel on the floor and generally avoid doing anything clownish or potentially humiliating. Not ...
    View this on TV Tropes >


    Maybe it's just me, but I'm willing to get my hands dirty and make some goofy faces.

    Much gratitude!

    Martha



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    Martha Doll
    Asst Art Director
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  • 2.  RE: Seeking Physical Comedy Moments For Women (ex: Cartoon bird tweets after a head bonk)

    Posted 03-01-2019 05:08
    Edited by Martha Doll 06-22-2019 03:42
    It's unfortunate, nobody has any suggestions? I have located another such moment in the musical Honk Jr. after the cat (often played by a woman) sings "Play With Your Food." but this moment is an outlier in the rest of the play. I don't have much experience with pantos but I'd think there would be some like this, or other plays with vaudeville influence.

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    Martha
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  • 3.  RE: Seeking Physical Comedy Moments For Women (ex: Cartoon bird tweets after a head bonk)

    Posted 03-01-2019 10:19
    This might not be what you're looking for, but Carol Burnett comes immediately to mind. There should be plenty of clips form her show on line. The Funeral Parlor by Christopher Durang (he may have been a staff writer for the show?) is a great showcase for a comedic actress - there are lots of opportunities for physical comedy (it's about ten minutes long) but it isn't the bonk someone on the head type.

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    Ken Buswell
    Drama Teacher
    Peachtree City, GA
    http://mcintoshtheater.org/

    Theater kills ignorance
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  • 4.  RE: Seeking Physical Comedy Moments For Women (ex: Cartoon bird tweets after a head bonk)

    Posted 03-02-2019 05:41
    Edited by Martha Doll 06-22-2019 03:41

    You suggesting we go with a Tarzan yell? I think what I'm seeking is just not in existence in this form. Someone needs to create a Three Stooges or Keystone Kops play. Time to start writing my own maybe?

    Thank you! I will check out Funeral Parlor. And if anyone else out there in TV land is struck with any banana peel / frying pan moments please let me know. I'll admit I've never seen any pantos!



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    Martha
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  • 5.  RE: Seeking Physical Comedy Moments For Women (ex: Cartoon bird tweets after a head bonk)

    Posted 03-03-2019 17:24
    I think what you want does not exist in dramatic literature, Jemma.  I'm going to attribute that to male playwrights not feeling comfortable writing physically funny parts for women.  Even in famously physical plays like Noises Off, the women don't get to tumble or get bonked on the head.

    You can find females doing pratfalls and physical humor in the television work of Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, and some episodes of Laugh-In.

    (Here's Lucy.)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNhnFt41pD4



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    C. J. Breland
    Asheville High School
    Asheville NC
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  • 6.  RE: Seeking Physical Comedy Moments For Women (ex: Cartoon bird tweets after a head bonk)

    Posted 03-03-2019 17:34
    Hey! Great minds!

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    Mike Rock
    Main Company + Faculty
    IMPRO Theatre Los Angeles
    Los Angeles CA
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  • 7.  RE: Seeking Physical Comedy Moments For Women (ex: Cartoon bird tweets after a head bonk)

    Posted 03-04-2019 00:38
    Edited by Martha Doll 06-22-2019 03:42

    Yes, brilliantly said, C.J! This was even mentioned in the TV Tropes page I shared. I think it's changing now a bit and it helps that women are finally getting to share THEIR voices more. I'm an old soul in a young body (well, 27) so I like odd things maybe but I also figured if anything existed in some lesser known play out there many of you have hopefully been working for much longer would have maybe encountered something.

    Another play I've found like this is called Goldilockpick and Red Riding Hoodlum. THIS would be absolutely perfect if we could find more like this I'd be a happy camper--
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofa8FEINnAU

    Of course there's been no issue finding *fainting* scenes for girls, and I do like a good "serial fainter" character but, it's  very tough to find any "dizzy / dazed" looney tunes esque moments anywhere, even for males. If anybody knows of any plays with that we could gender-swap.

    For now I'm looking at being forced to write exercises and activities for the girls. Perhaps adapting some of these great bits you've all shared! But we do hope to ultimately adapt full plays that just happen to have one or more good moments like this.

    Thank you all!



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    Martha


  • 8.  RE: Seeking Physical Comedy Moments For Women (ex: Cartoon bird tweets after a head bonk)

    Posted 03-05-2019 08:35

    Silent movies have some great moments.... Not sure that there is the nefarious intent with keeping women in "fainting sequences" as much as it tended to reflect a trend against doing violence to women...
    These Are the Female Silent Comedians
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    These Are the Female Silent Comedians
    This is sort of a follow-up to my earlier post in which I ranked the silent comedians. I thought up this post because dames necessarily got short shrift on the earlier list, which was focused on slapstick comedy stars. If we did such a list today, bang, zoom, no problem.
    View this on (Travalanche) >


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    Laura Parker
    Director Cobra Theatre Cmpany
    Bel Air Maryland MD
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  • 9.  RE: Seeking Physical Comedy Moments For Women (ex: Cartoon bird tweets after a head bonk)

    Posted 03-05-2019 21:31
    Edited by Martha Doll 06-22-2019 03:43
    Good points and suggestsions! Thanks :)

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    Martha


  • 10.  RE: Seeking Physical Comedy Moments For Women (ex: Cartoon bird tweets after a head bonk)

    Posted 03-03-2019 17:33
    Hi Jemma -  for female characters doing physical comedy, the play "Noises Off" comes to mind. Also, forgive me if I'm not quite understanding but if you're just looking for moments / scenes to work with (versus an entire play to rehearse) in addition to Carol Burnett, maybe look for some scenes from "SCTV" with Catherine O'Hara & Andrea Martin  "I Love Lucy" Lucille Ball, many Melissa McCarthy films, the tv show "Lavern & Shirley" SNL sketches with Amy Poehler or Molly Shannon, ... you might also switch the gender & use bits from The Three Stooges, Chaplin, Lloyd, Keaton, Harpo Marx, or Mr. Bean.

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    Mike Rock
    Main Company + Faculty
    IMPRO Theatre Los Angeles
    Los Angeles CA
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  • 11.  RE: Seeking Physical Comedy Moments For Women (ex: Cartoon bird tweets after a head bonk)

    Posted 03-04-2019 00:39
    Edited by Martha Doll 06-22-2019 03:43
    All great classic bits! (Sorry, I didn't realize my last reply would go above this one, figured it would go to bottom of thread. And you're right about Noises Off too. Just saw that last fall.

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    Martha
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  • 12.  RE: Seeking Physical Comedy Moments For Women (ex: Cartoon bird tweets after a head bonk)

    Posted 03-04-2019 08:13

    While not skits, you might be able to pull examples from Once Upon a Mattress.  Off-hand, I'm thinking of Winnifred's first entrance "I swam the moat," and the song "I'm in Love with a Girl Named Fred" where she gets more than a bit tipsy throughout the song and has to sequence through all of the actions mentioned in the lyrics. 

    Both Carol Burnett and Lucille Ball's television work should supply physical comedy scenes that will work for this type of skit. 



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    Suzanne Katz
    Washington DC
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  • 13.  RE: Seeking Physical Comedy Moments For Women (ex: Cartoon bird tweets after a head bonk)

    Posted 03-05-2019 21:31
    Edited by Martha Doll 06-22-2019 03:43
    Thank you so much! Carol Burnett keeps surfacing :) And Fred is such a hoot!

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    Martha
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  • 14.  RE: Seeking Physical Comedy Moments For Women (ex: Cartoon bird tweets after a head bonk)

    Posted 03-06-2019 07:08
    We just did Don Zolidis's Nooses Off and really leaned into the physical comedy. In addition to classic slapstick stuff like chases and fights, the changing into hideous costumes from elevated platforms provided some opportunities for some almost acrobatic physical comedy. We had one girl that really came into her own, surprising us with how funny she was in those moments. Many people told her she reminded them of Carol Burnett. You might take a look at that one.

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    Steven Slaughter
    English/Theatre
    Rosslyn Academy
    Nairobi, Kenya

    "Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts." - W Berry
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  • 15.  RE: Seeking Physical Comedy Moments For Women (ex: Cartoon bird tweets after a head bonk)

    Posted 03-08-2019 07:23
    Edited by Martha Doll 06-22-2019 03:42
    Thanks again for all the great ideas guys! While going through Rowan and Martin's Laugh In I found so many amusing moments, and here is one I compiled that could make a very fun showcase for 1 person if adapted. https://vimeo.com/322221728

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    Martha
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  • 16.  RE: Seeking Physical Comedy Moments For Women (ex: Cartoon bird tweets after a head bonk)

    Posted 21 days ago
    Hi Martha;

    I know that this is an old thread, but if you're still looking for sketches or full-length plays that include funny female head bonk material, you probably already know that there are far more examples of this in television and film, going all the way back to early silent cinema, than there are in skits and plays written for the stage. I suspect that a lot of it has to do with the speed and timing that is possible in film is much harder to execute in real time on the stage.

    You might want to write some of your own sketches using this premise, or perhaps a series of them to  be given in one performance .

    As an example, I once wrote such a vaudeville-type sketch intended for video, but it could easily work on the stage. In it, a somewhat klutzy and awkward young woman (a la a young Carol Burnett) goes to a job interview given by a stout older woman who is the supervisor. The young interviewee winds up accidentally knocking out her prospective boss, revives her by throwing water on her, accidentally ko's her with the water pitcher, clumsily tries to dry her blouse while she's out cold, etc. The punch line to the sketch has the young woman ask for a reference form the now-conscious supervisor, at which point the angry older woman chases the young woman out of the office.

    This is the sort of rapid-fire material you might see on television, or in an old two-reeler, but not so much in a full-length play. That's why writing original material might be the way to go.

    Hope that helps.

    Bess

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    Bessie Deville
    Richmond VA
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