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Acting vs Drama Acting

Drama Vs Comediy Acting - TBell Actor's Studio

Comedy Vs. Drama Acting: What You Should Know

When I first started acting, I didn’t know what kind of work I wanted to do. I just wanted to act. It didn’t really occur to me until I started to train regularly the differences in dramatic acting and comedy acting. There’s nothing that says you can’t do both, many actors do. However, it’s good to know the differences, which believe it or not, are often subtle.
First and foremost, training is key!! If you are determined to be a WORKING actor, you must train! Typically, through training you will develop a love for either drama, comedy, or both. I know some actors that only want to do drama as it feeds their soul more than comedy. And I know some actors that only do comedy because making people laugh is their ultimate goal. Whichever it is, they are both geared to make the audience feel something. Again, let me stress that you can absolutely do both, as most actors want to do it all, but if you’re leaning more toward one, here’s what you should know. And let me be clear, they often intersect so please don’t interpret this into absolutes!


Drama tends to be more grounded. If you watch a ton of drama series or films, you’ll see that the actors are as real as possible (most of the time). They lean into their inner work and what they are feeling in the scene. These emotions drive their performance while keeping it real and grounded. Usually this means to put yourself in the character’s heart and mind and truly be in the moment of what’s happening. For some this is easy, and for some, not so much. When preparing for a dramatic piece, it’s best to think about how you would feel in that particular situation and then layer that with the character’s traits. If you have a hard time reaching certain emotions at a deep level, TRAINING is how to develop these skills. Keep in mind that drama acting is often peeling the onion. There are layers and layers of things to discover. At least, for an interesting performance this is true. If you’ve never been in the character’s situation, then how can you possibly feel what they’re feeling? Every person has felt pain. Every person has experienced hurt from something in their life. You may not have been through the exact circumstance, but I bet you’ve experienced something similar. Use it! I’ve often said that it is not possible to get your audience to go on a ride you are not also willing to take and it is also not fair.



Who doesn’t love a good laugh? As I have trained over the past 15 years, I have discovered a new love for comedy. The thing I learned quickly when it came to comedy is TIMING. If you have ever performed a comedy and didn’t get a laugh (and trust me, every actor has at one point) then you know something was off. Timing is everything. If your line is the punchline and you wait to deliver it for too long, it falls flat. Watch sitcoms and pay attention to how they deliver. It’ll help greatly! You also have to be sure you understand what kind of comedy it is. Is it slapstick? Over the top physical comedy? Sarcastic, dry humor? Is it a multi camera comedy which tends to be a faster pace?
All of these things will help an actor determine how to play it. Then there’s COMMITMENT. This is important in both genres but especially comedy. This can also be referred to as finding the EXTREMES in the character. If the character is anxious then be extremely anxious. If he/she is sad, cry loud and uncontrollably. If you have ever watched an episode of, I Love Lucy or Friends, you’ll see a lot of this. If it’s physical, then the actor better go big! If you’ve ever seen a Jim Carey film then you get the point here.
The best way to learn is train and watch a ton of comedies. Another tremendous help is to take improv. This will help with delivery, on the spot decisions, body movement, and even timing. And above all, watch how the best are doing it, copy it and say thank you! In addition, I’ve often heard it said that comedy is tragedy plus time or tragedy that happens so someone else. These ideas are more in the realm of writer’s concerns. Comedy is also a matter of things that don’t belong together. This is also usually left to the writer but a creative actor can also incorporate these ideas in their craft.

Final Thoughts on Drama vs. Comedy Acting

Above all, be as truthful as you can in both genres. Most of the time, it’s funny because the material is funny and the same goes for dramas.
I’ll leave you with this from Steve Carrell. “I don’t really think about comedy and drama as separate genres, Ultimately, I prepare for them in the same way – it’s all about trying to make it as truthful as you can. A character in a comedy doesn’t know that they’re in a comedy, and the same goes for drama. You don’t act a drama as if you’re in a drama – it’s just life, it’s just what’s happening.”