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Pretty, Funny! Gals in Comedy - What it Takes to be the Punch Line
Written by: Kelly Calabrese
Gal power packs a
one-two punch of honesty and hilarity whirled into an artistic performance that
you can't take your eyes off of in a show called "Entrance with
charge - two girls smoke a cigarette in only 30 seconds!" - part of the Zoofest
Comedy Events in Montreal.
After seeing this show, I hereby declare to all femme fatales who aspire to be comedians... pretty, funny is the new, old way of landing sought-after laugh lines. Just like Lucille Ball and Bebe Neuwirth blazed trails with their raw charm and razor sharp minds, the duo of Margherita Bergamo and Tuixén Benet exude funny by owning their feminine wiles.
So NYCastings ladies - get ready to grab your beautiful bulls by the horns - to learn about becoming a powerhouse in comedy, with this inspiring insight from the women of LES FILLES FÖLLEN.
Introducing: Margherita Bergamo and Tuixén Benet (speaking collectively)
Q: Tell us about your show - Two girls smoke a cigarette in only 30 seconds - such a unique blend of dance and comedy.
The story originally came from dance. We used performance ideas for the development, started from a construction that was open dramatically. One of the main things we wanted to do was to make sure that in every piece the audience feels a part of it. We didn't want it to feel like most times in dance where it can be separating, especially in ballet, which is the most unattainable thing to do. We wanted to be close to the audience and make them feel that we are the same thing. To make them be able to come into what we are doing.
We weren’t supposed to do a comedy, but the first part is a presentation of us and it became a comedy thing. We knew we weren’t being very serious, but we didn’t think we would be becoming to a comedy festival. We arrived to what we have from a previous idea. We began with cabaret, using cabaret conventions, and then it got more comedic so we used comedic conventions.
Q: In your opinion, what is the difference between male and female comedic performers?
The first night here in Montreal we saw The Nasty Show and it was different because most males use the sexual differences in their comedy in a way that puts us women as bad. Although, I think it used to be easier for men to get laughs because there were more male comedians. But in Spain, there are women comedians who are beginning to do their own work.
Q: Your show has great girl power as a two person team, what is your approach for blending your natural female charms with bold, humorous choices?
We started working on appearances. How do appearances affect people? The audience? And each other? So we started playing with asking for things and then not using them. Because we are two females, the charms come out. And that is in the appearance. It is what you transmit to a person in front of you. Then we worked on the look in the eyes, which can be really long if we have a lot of time. We experiment in that type of situation, with the idea that if I ask for something new from someone that just for being pretty and a good person I can have it. We've performed this in a lot of places. We've performed it in the street and play with the reactions.
Q: How do people react?
Someone in the street told us "You're not that pretty." Another said, "I am pretty too" and took a cigarette. Anything is fine. If someone doesn’t like it, that is fine also. It is normal. It is good to have reactions. Of course, it is good to entertain also.
Q: Your show layers a very unique style of humor above intense moments of emotional truth, what comes first as you write your work - the kernel of truth or the humorous thought?
The show is very truthful. We started doing the second part as a dance show and we came up with the cigarettes because we had to do a show at a place where they were selling cigarettes. We actually came up with the idea to do something against them. To show them. To take the cigarettes and break them. The construction is based on a choreographic way of constructing. Like writing, you can write something and then construct it - and then write something else based on the previous scene. But then change your meaning, playing with the words. In the same way, we played with movements, and then with cigarettes, and then we played with the whole thing to move parts of the first half into the second. It is a chorographical constriction. We start with a movement and can do it slow, fast, or twice. I can let it evolve to the direction of one way, or the other. The same thing with the action of smoking. I can smoke sitting, standing, running, or with two cigarettes one next to the other. And then, it is a matter of rhythm. To get the rhythm fine so it is entertaining.
Q: Tell us more about using rhythm in comedy.
There is a rhythm in comedy in course. When you enjoy it, there is rhythm in everything. Sometimes when you talk with people in the field most of the discussions are about rhythm. Yes the idea is nice, but maybe in this moment it goes down or in this moment it is too fast. It is a matter of timing. When you cut fast and change it, if you don't do it fast it is not surprising. I don’t know if we do it the best way, but it is good to know how to analyze it and apply the idea of rhythm. We also play with rhythm when we do the performances. For each performance, we decide how long something lasts. If there is a lot of audience, and we are having a good time passing out cigarettes, we take a longer time to give the cue to the technician. If we feel the audience is not playing with us, we give the cue faster.
Q: Many people believe that pretty girls aren’t funny, yet you are not only funny – you use your looks as part of the punch line. How can other funny femme fatales make their looks work for them?
First of all, I think to be pretty isn’t beautiful or top model. It is just very nice, good looking, but right. We are not like oh we're beautiful. We are just nice and smiling. And when we first started, we both had very dyed hair, red and super blonde, so it was a very strong image. You can use it, or not make any attention of it. Both ways can work. In the first part of our show, where it might be the most funny, we are not well dressed or anything. We are in street clothes. In general, the truth to me is that if a girl is nice in life, in any context, she can do whatever. Make love. Be very strong. Tough. Intelligent. And funny. You really forget that she is pretty. But it is good to not to try and hide it either, to pretend I am not very beautiful if you are.
I really like this Patricia Conde in Spain. She is amazingly gorgeous, tall and thin and beautiful and she has always done comedy. It is not that she is saying she is beautiful, but she knows it in a way and doesn’t hide it. Most of the time she is dressed in shorts and plays it full of herself just as much as a guy; just by being normal. She goes through being stupid to very smart and knowing the situation. But you could see how smart she was while playing silly.
Just be yourself but real. And if you are pretty - good for you! We are born like this. You have it, and have to take care of yourself if you want to stay that way, but you are who you are. If you are dreaming of being actress, it is a matter of fitting your mind, and educating your mind, so you get stronger and can do whatever you want,
If you have it, good for you. Don’t hide it. Use it all.
- THANK YOU Margherita Bergamo and Tuixén Benet!!!
It was my pleasure to watch their show and learn more about their process. Here is the 411 on these talented girls...
TUIXÉN BENET - (Barcelona) is a dancer who has studied classical dance at the Studio Isadora since the Barcelona Olympics. She combined her dance studies with Computer Engineering and Mathematics, ﬁnally abandoning her scientiﬁc studies to concentrate on Choreography at the Conservatori Superior de Dansa del Institut del Teatre, where she is now in her fourth year. She has worked under the instruction of choreographer Vanessa Walters, from New York, as a dancer in the Fisherspooner rock group. She has been choreographer of the music videos for Oh Land, Two Door Cinema Club and El Guincho amongst others and co-director of the video clip 'Anoche (El Puñal y la Memoria) by Christina Rosenvinge. She also specializes in audiovisual editing.
MARGHERITA BERGAMO MENEGHINI - (Padua, Italia) is a dancer and cultural manager. She lives and works in Barcelona since 2001. She has finished her degree in Choreography at the Conservatory of Dance Theatre Institute of Barcelona and combines his work as a choreographer with management tasks and teaching activities. Her training in dance came from the rhythmic gymnastics, ballet and modern. He has been working on stage in Italy (Nin Scolari, Roberto Castello) and Spain (Sol Picó, Erre Que Erre, La Veronal, Ribermúsica) are self-created assemblies 'In a parallel world', 'part number one' and work in progress 'You are the one'. She is assistant director of the interactive show "Avatar * 'Mariangeles G. Angulo and Roman Tower (Barcelona), assistant director of the show 'Nuda Vita' Catalina Company et Carlotta Sagna (Paris), assistant choreographer of the theater director Fernando Utzet and movement teacher at the theater workshop of the design school Elisava Barcelona.
'Les ﬁlles Föllen's project was born in early 2008 as a working compromise between Tuixén Benet and Margherita Bergamo, final year students of Choreography and performance techniques at the Conservatory of Dance of Barcelona's Theatre Institute.
The first axis of work of 'Les ﬁlles Föllen' revolves around the appearances in society, and dance as a trascendent technical event, so it uses the tools of dance, which are the body and physicality. The common goal of 'Les flles Föllen's work is to convey physicality and emotion to the viewer, and beyond the stage show, seeks to approach various audiences, especially those not used to seeing dance.
The starting point of all work by 'Les ﬁlles Föllen' is the movement within an ideal and narrative framework, and the development of their work arises from the particular, the detail, the inconsequential, the occasionally... to the universal, which everyone can understand and share.
For these reasons, they have a live blog http://lesfillesfollen.blogspot.com that wants to be a virtual space to share the process of creation. Linked to the blog, there is a youtube account, http://youtube.com/arepretty.
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