whenever I coached or taught improv, which feels like a hundred years ago, i’d invariably preach that it’s the good improviser who can make the audience laugh, but it’s the great improviser who can make them cry.
because when the audience is moved to laughter and tears, it means you’ve absolutely, 100% got ‘em — you’ve taken them away from their everyday, you’ve made them forget their worries, their pains and their whatevers, even for a split second. i’d footnote all this by saying those moments, especially in improv, were incredibly rare, but when it happens, it’s pretty much magic incarnate.
in this video, which i know is sketch but it still applies, listen to the audience at the end of superman’s song (around 3:59). the emotion is palpable, and pretty damn cool. (big h/t to susan messing / pat shay)
Immediately after Cobain’s death, Yankovic and his band were hesitant to play the extremely popular “Smells Like Nirvana” during live shows. This was the first case where the original artist of one of Yankovic’s parody songs had died. For several months after Cobain’s death, Yankovic would first perform a somber tribute to Cobain prior to playing the song. Shortly after Cobain’s demise, Yankovic was scheduled to play a show in Seattle where Nirvana first became famous. Due to this connection, Yankovic was worried how the crowds would react to the parody. He was told by journalists that the song would be “cathartic” for the area. Yankovic noted that the subsequent performance “went over extremely well.” Yankovic continues to play “Smells Like Nirvana” at tours stating that “Kurt was a fan of the song” and “he would have wanted it that way.” (via Wikipedia)