What is it about a bad performance that is so alluring? Is it the *schadenfreude of seeing someone who is usually so polished and perfect stumble? Or is it something more, a chance to see a different side of an actor, one that is raw and vulnerable?
Whatever the reason, there’s no denying that there’s a certain appeal to watching a bad performance.
I’m not going to name names, but when I was a kid in 1983, I went to the theater and saw a movie called Krull – seven times. Anyone ever hear of or see this film? Follow us and comment because this, I’ve got to hear.
Okay, okay. You talked me into it. I’ll give you some reasons why people like watching bad acting:
– It’s entertaining. There’s something about watching someone struggle to deliver a line or hit their mark that just makes us laugh. Some people simply enjoy critiquing bad acting. They take pleasure in pointing out every flaw and nitpicking every detail.
– It’s relatable. We’ve all been in a situation where we’ve had to perform and we know how hard it is.
– It reminds us that we could be doing worse. There’s something comforting in knowing that no matter how bad our day is going, at least we’re not the one up on stage or screen flailing around like a chicken with its head cut off.
So, while many actors work hard to give great performances, some enjoy the allure of a bad performance because they feel it will be more entertaining for the audience. The actor may also feel that they can get away with more if their performance is not up to par.
Now, there’s an exception, of course. What if the actor is playing a character that is supposed to be bad at acting? In this case, the actor may feel that it’s more believable if they don’t give a great performance.
Tatiana Maslany pulls this off brilliantly in the BBC America series Orphan Black. Her character, Alison Hendrix, is a drunk soccer mom clone who joins the local theater and becomes the lead in a musical called Blood Ties. So just how does a drunk housewife act? Really, really bad… enjoy the clip!
Character Alison’s acting is so bad, it proves that actress Tatiana‘s acting is amazing! (Orphan Black fans, follow us and let us know which clone is your favorite.)
Looking at it from an actor’s perspective, watching bad acting can be a learning experience, teaching us what not to do. In order to not do bad acting, you need to be able to understand the character you’re portraying and be able to empathize with them. If you can’t understand or feel for your character, it’ll come across as fake and forced. You also need to be able to remain in character while still being believable. This can be difficult, especially if the scene is emotional or requires a lot of energy. It’s also important to listen to direction and take note of what works and what doesn’t. If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to try something else.
*schadenfreude — enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others – don’t worry, I had to look it up once, too!