Character Stance Basics: Dramatic vs. Humorous

Pops have a tendency to appear comedic. Dramatic pieces that involve multiple characters require character development on a deeper level than a humorous piece when it comes to pops, and the reason is simple. In a funny performance, it’s standard operating procedure to include at least one or two characters who stand in a stereotyped or extreme way – Knees bowed in, hunched over, confused face, pushing glasses up on the nose to imitate a shy, nerdy person. Tall posture, one hand on the hip and other hand pointing at the audience for a Tim Gunn effect, et cetera. But you can’t get away with using stereotyped character stances in a dramatic performance because it comes across as a joke. Since it’s never a good sign if people are laughing at you during a dramatic performance, here are a few ways to differentiate between comedic and dramatic pops:

  • Comedic pops can be “bigger” and more exaggerated, with broader movements and even audible shifting noises. Your gestures in H.I. or any comedic piece will naturally be more flamboyant, which you can use to your advantage when it comes to pops.
  • Remember that contrast between pops is very important in a humorous piece simply because it’s funny to watch someone physically go back and forth between extremes.
  • In a performance of a dramatic piece, you want to keep your pops somewhat close together and simple – for example, make one character slightly shorter than the other by bending your knees, and keep the focus on your shift in facial expression and posture rather than elaborate hand gestures.
  • Dramatic pieces lend themselves well to silent, delicate character transitions. This goes back to contrast; your character stances should be close enough together to allow you to switch between them with minimal movement.
  • Some competitors will actually “melt” between characters instead of popping, which is basically a slower, more relaxed transition. While this has its advantages because you don’t come across as stiff the way you might with a regular pop, it generally makes you look like you’re trying to do a pop and you’re not doing it correctly. Steer clear.

Simple advice, but it’s definitely something you should keep in mind when you’re performing any piece with multiple characters. I should also note that it’s important to make sure you aren’t wearing particularly noisy shoes for a competition if you plan on popping in any dramatic pieces. A well-placed squeak can really ruin a touching moment.