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John Hadden on humor and “absurd commitment to the circumstances and the truth of the characters”

August 31, 2009

“There is the play, and then there is this oddly twentieth-century humor that works quite well in stand-up or in the midst of certain tedious social occasions, but often detracts from the play, even from the comedy, which I say should be built upon an absurd commitment to the circumstances and the truth of the characters – otherwise the laughs are gratuitous; they allow the audience to indulge in their basic dislike of the theater and let them off the hook of whatever the playwright is trying to convey – especially if he/she is challenging them to think. I would make no exception to this basic principle without a very strong reason, maybe something Brechtian – but I would have to be persuaded – before departing from it, and then I would make sure the departure was very conscious and purposeful.”

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