Thinking 'bout: Finding Fun (Revisited)
This stock image is entitled "Fun Dad." I'm not so sure. He looks like "Stressed Dad Trying to Hold it Together" or "Light Concussion Awakens Threatening Tendencies Dad." Great watch choice, though. 10/10
Note: I talked about this once before, but I felt it needed an update for current times. Check out my first blog on Finding Fun.
2020, most would agree, has not been particularly fun.
But I think fun is still out there.
One of the best improv teachers I've ever had pressed me consistently to "find the fun." It's some of the best advice I've ever gotten in improv, and I think it's important in all performance, and in life.
See, I'm a perfectionist. I overthink. My default setting is to want to do something "right" and to be praised for being correct. I'm the kid who raised his hand first, who obsessed over critical notes in theater, and agonized when other people got parts that I wanted and assumed something was wrong with me.
I love to have fun, but I worry if that fun is right.
Some worrying about right fun is worthwhile; fun that is oppressive or mean at its core, for example, is not fun. Eric Vance does a good job of explaining fair and empathetic fun in his article "Where the Wild Things Play" from earlier this year. But the worrying I was doing about right fun wasn't that. I was overly concerned with being seen as being "good at fun" and doing the fun "the most right." That's dumb, and it's not fun.
Fun happens when we offer our genuine selves to a moment. It really happens when other people do it, too, and when we're able to enjoy only the present. This is why play and fun are so special, and why we absolutely need to find it.
Like Vance explains in the article linked above, play is fundamental to who we are as people, and I'd go on to further argue that our play interests define what we seek to accomplish in life. Maya Rudolph, in her recent interview on Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend, talks about how she does her best work around "her people" and when she's laughing and having fun. In my own experience, my best performances have consistently felt like I was along for a ride- when I was listening, trusting the process of those around me, and surprising myself with what naturally arises.
But shouldn't some things be un-fun?
Sure, corporate pitch meetings are pretty serious things, right? Certainly, there shouldn't be anything fun about reading off the legally necessary side effects of Trulanta...that's important stuff.
But why shouldn't those things be fun?
I'm not suggesting anyone juggle for the hell of it in a pitch meeting, or read the side effects like Bugs Bunny, but why not enjoy the moment a little?
I think all people just want to connect. They want a little surpriseThere are people on the other sides of our microphones. People who love what they do and love what they create or what the represent. And if they don't, they love something or someone. They have fun somehow.
To me, fun is just that instinctual, human feeling that you're not alone and that something, anything can happen. That someone is listening to you, and you're listening back. That there are shared rules we can all enjoy and like your little league soccer coach said but didn't actually mean: "the score doesn't matter, we're all here to have fun." Then you got orange slices!
Bad scripts can be fun. Dry scripts can be fun. 300 page technical manuals can be fun, and if they are, even just a little, they're that much better.
Fun is really, really good at hiding. Perhaps now more than ever. But our job as voice actors, performers, and people is to to find it.