One of the things I learned about acting/comedy that my father possessed innately over his 60 years in the biz that I don't know can be taught is the art form of how long to hold for a laugh whether it's for theatre, TV or the movies. My father the late Harvey Korman was a master in this rare skill set that can be the difference between the writer eating at IHOP or Spagos. The actor or actress can take the interpretation of the line and elevate it to a even bigger tony winning worthy moment by understanding the subtext of the moment even in ways the writer never could expect even in the first table read.That goes back to the issue of actors learning to stay in the moment and actually listening instead of eagerly anticipating their cue line.You can see actors leaning forward with their head slightly turned waiting to jump on the set up and get their big laugh with their response. We hear often that acting is reacting to the moment in front of you. Dad had this uncanny ability to drain every moment even if it was farce or satire because it was always grounded in truth. His approach always in his career was that he was an actor doing comedy not a comedian. There is a huge difference between an actor and a comedian. Not everyone grasps that theory in the biz easily. The actor is the ultimate muse for the writer. How to make each night feel like opening night and not letting the moments that are tony worthy come to feel stale after a month.That is the challenge an actor has in theatre that they don't have in TV or movies so I guess acting in the theatre is probably the most rewarding and the most challenging creatively/artistically for a long run. The closest my dad got to Broadway was a deli near the theatre district in the 50s. Dad never did broadway because he felt that sketch comedy or character comedy playing a vast array of characters was going to utilize all that he learned with Uta and at the HB studio/Goodman. Dad didn't go into this biz to be a fame seeker he went into the biz feeling this was going to be a vocation that presented him with an opportunity to gain a measure of acceptance/love/respect that he couldn't find in other fields. Dad also found comedy to be a cathartic purge that paid the bills consistently instead of giving it to a shrink twice a week. Dad never cheated his audience and that was because his mentor/teacher Uta never cheated her audience or her students ever. She was the measuring stick for artistic integrity and sustained excellence.
Born in Germany, Uta Hagen moved to Madison, Wisconsin, at the age of six. With the exception of several interruptions for study in Europe, Ms. Hagen received most of her schooling in Madison, her home until age sixteen. After training briefly at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, she made her professional debut in 1937 in Dennis, Massachusetts, as “Ophelia” in Eva Le Gallienne’s production of Hamlet.Learn more