Karen Loftus has found that the more responsibility she takes on, the more it helps her grow as a performer. "Going from theater into stand-up was an easier transition for me because I had 10 years' experience as an actor and a writer; I knew my voice, I had done a lot of writing and I also had stage legs," says Loftus, whose recent two-woman show It's A Man's, Man's, Man's, Man's World has taken her from Los Angeles to The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where it was awarded the Critics Choice by The London Times. Loftus, who will soon return to London to do the play Help! I'm Alive at The Battersea Arts Center, also credits the creative process behind stand-up comedy with helping her cope with life in general. "After getting up in front of a stand-up comedy audience, everything in life seems easier," she explains.
"You're very dependent on that audience in stand-up," agrees Joan Jaffee, whose first Broadway show was Bajour in the 1960s. Jaffee, who later played Ursula in Much To Do About Nothing before embarking on several national tours, took up comedy long after establishing her theatrical career. She has since put together her own Evenings of All-Star Comedy featuring fellow Friar members, among other talents. "The timing is different," says Jaffee. "It takes a while to get used to that constant need for audience response. And, unlike the theater, you can be at the mercy of a tired or noisy crowd, which doesn't help any. After years of theater, I must say, stand-up is a whole other ballgame."
Indeed, the two forms of entertainment can be mutually beneficial and encouraging for performers who get a different kind of rush from these distinct venues. Perhaps the best way to truly appreciate both is to leave the theater and head for a nightcap at a local comedy club. Who knows, you might even see one of the same performers in a whole new light.
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