David Epley – On the Power and Responsibility of Comedy: My lil’l Soapbox

Fill out the form and press play to hear David B. Epley on storytelling with comedy on the Art of Storytelling with Brother Wolf.

Doktor Kaboom (David Epiley) the great Kaboom him self.

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Comedy and Storytelling.

David Epley writes…
Comedy is one of the most effective tools for imparting any information:

  • It actively involves the audience; laughter is not passive.
  • It encourages the audience to focus on the process; you must pay attention to the setup in order to get the punch line.
  • It makes the process fun.


All of these aspects conspire to make an event, an individual, or a particular subject
matter, more memorable. Think of your favorite Teacher, Storyteller, Pastor, Politician, Actor, Choreographer, et cetera, and you will see the truth of what I’m saying. Comedy can be used to educate, to alleviate tension, to ease stress, to help in almost any situation.

Unfortunately, comedy can also be used for ill. It is a powerful tool, and like any tool, its effects, and the responsibility for those effects, are in the hands of the user. It is used daily to hurt, to degrade, to destroy. Sometimes with intent, often without. This places a great moral responsibility on the comedian.

When using Comedy, one must make a conscious effort to gauge its consequences, and take corrective action when necessary. Not all laughter is positive, or even acceptable.

Years ago the US Military enacted its infamous “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy regarding homosexuality in the Armed Services. My partners in Theatre in the Ground and I wrote a short bit designed to mock it. The bit was about 30 seconds long, highly interactive, and generated 3 very solid laughs. (That’s a laugh every 10 seconds, each one building in effect, and that’s great. Vaudevillians used to shoot for a minimum of one laugh every 23 seconds.) Unfortunately, after performing the bit a few times, we realized that the audience wasn’t laughing at Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Most were actually responding to our comedy by laughing at homosexuals as a whole. This was far from our intent, and was generating laughter that we felt was actually bad for the world. We cut the piece immediately. It is a lesson I will never forget.

Enjoy the gift of laughter. Use it. Revel in it. Share it.
Just remember its power, and respect it.

For more info on David Epley or Doktor Kaboom and the best example of a professional entertainers website I have ever seen go to…

David Epley as Doktor Kaboom - an assume and orginal performance for families and schools.
http://www.doktorkaboom.com/

2 Comments

  • By Tim, May 10, 2008 @ 12:37 am

    Talking about comedy, or comic performance, is a like dancing about architecture. No, it’s like ironing about food. No. That’s not it. It’s like… like… dissecting a frog. You can learn something about the frog, sure, but then you’re left with a dead frog.
    It’s clear David knows his stuff. But without knowing David’s work and his style (and I would dearly love to see a Doctor Kaboom show), it’s a stretch to apply his knowledge to storytelling.
    This interview worked best when talking about the big picture stuff, less so when it came down to the nitty gritty, since it wasn’t directly applicable to storytellers.
    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done comedy improv for nearly twenty years, I recognize what David was talking about, and David only began to scratch the surface of the topic. I’m curious to know how others– especially storytellers– reacted to the interview. Was it helpful? Interesting but abstruse?

  • By rick hill, August 23, 2009 @ 12:10 pm

    David’s comedy is timeless. I have enjoyed his comedy as Shakespeare in the ground(Mud Pit) at Renfest in South Florida and also in recent years his Doctor Kaboom showcase. It is my belief that David is getting better with age and wisdow. I will look forward to see his new science next year again.

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