I know many of you are reading this headline and saying “ Is that an oxymoron (and it has nothing to do with Oxyclean, the soap detergent)?”. Yes, adlibs or off-the-cuff- remarks can be premeditated. In fact, I ENCOURAGE you to write some of your own adlibs and memorize them for the time when they may come in handy.
But doesn’t that disqualify them as adlibs if you already know in advance what to say? Actually..no! Some of the world’s best known and loved comedians have a rich reserve of adlibs crammed into the back of their minds, ready to spring forth when needed. True, you may come up with a witty line or great remark spur of the moment and if that happens and it gets a great response, remember it, write it down, and then commit it to memory.
I have found that the great comedians write quick one -liners that can be used for a special occasion. Maybe it’s when dishes are dropped at a banquet, someone sneezes during your act, or an audience member has a loud and unruly laugh…these are the starting points to use your imagination and have a witty joke or bit that can look spontaneous but are really written and waiting to be delivered. Make a list of all the things that may possibly happen during your show an then write funny comebacks for each situation.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a show for children or a show for adults, write to the situation and the audience. A line I use to cover having a kid come on stage is “come right on up..an bring your feet with you!” . It gets a laugh and looks like an adlib to cover the awkward stage wait of having a volunteer come to the stage. My comedy writing friend Robert Orben wrote this adlib when some one dropped a tray of dishes at a banquet “The last time that happened people got up to dance!” Are these all staged adlibs, yes, did it work with the audience, absolutely.
Write a few adlibs today and have them “at the ready” when the time arises. You’ll thank your lucky stars you did!
To contact Mark Wade- firstname.lastname@example.org