What are handles?

skills Nov 05, 2021

What the heck is someone talking about the tell you not to put handles on a joke?

And how can we bring this concept into the wider realm of performance and tackle that common acting direction "Act on the words."?

Well, before we go any further, I wanna take a total left turn away from this on-camera topic to encourage you to jump onboard this weekend's Getting Into Audiobooks Workshop. I can't say how valuable and applicable Lisa's teachings are. Student after student has gotten out there into the market and STARTED WORKING after working with Lisa.

And to sweeten the deal - here's a coupon code for $20 off. So even if you missed the Early BirdRate, you're still in business. CODE = BOOKAUDIOBOOKS

Sat - 11/6 - 12pm-4pm CT - $150 after coupon

So, what are handles? 

Handles are when you ruin a joke.

Kidding. But there are some (very breakable) "rules" of comedy out there. One of them being "Don't put handles on the joke." Handles can be looked at as the little extra stuff right before (or potentially right after) the meat of the joke.

For a rough example, let's say you're in a "Run of Three" bit, and the capper line of the joke is "I've never even been there." To put handles on that last line, you might simply add a "well..." to the front of that line: "well...I've never been there." 

The "well..." serves to let your audience know that you are about to say something funny. It pushes them out in front of you, and can kill the unexpected.

Handles don't always come in the form of an extra word or phrase though. They can come as a sigh, and exasperation, a pointed angry glance, anything that COMMUNICATES an aspect of what that joke is (or that a joke is even coming) right before the actual words.


And handles can live AFTER the line as well. Once the joke is landed, it's often best to leave it standing on its own. It doesn't need your extra support!

This all translates to the non-comedic world as well. I'm sure ANYONE who has worked on Shakespeare has heard the direction to "act ON the words."

But just because it is a rule, does not mean you should use it all the time!

After all, acting is all about breaking the rules. Life and performance sure would be boring without rules, and it sure would be boring if we always followed them.

In any case, if you wanna get a handle on a new aspect of your acting career and finally get started in Audiobooks- go register for tomorrow's Audiobooks workshop NOW!

(Sorry, bad handling of a transition there)

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