Teaching as an adjunct can be a lot of fun. It is also challenging. As I have encountered a number of situations, I realize such a blog can be helpful, both to me and to others.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Who's On First

The more I teach, the younger my students get, and I guess the older I get as well.

When we talk about vocal variety in speeches, I like to show students movies clips and various bits that show how effective vocal variety, gestures and facial expressions are. Obvious I do not expect them to be a professional actor, and it would not be appropriate to deliver a speech in the same manner a comedian delivers a routine, still it shows the importance of delivery.

I recently took to showing the students Abbot and Costello’s Who’s on First routine. It is available on Youtube. After I show them that clip I ask them how they think it would come across with no vocal variety or expressions. They usually say it would not be very effective. I then show them a clip from the movie Rainman where Dustin Hoffman is reciting this routine on his own and Tom Cruise keeps telling him he is not funny.

The clips seems to work but what amazes me is the conversation that takes place befor I show the clip. I like to know what my students are familiar with. So I ask how many of them know the Who’s on First routine and out of 40 students, only four knew the routine. Only five students had heard of Abbot and Costello.

It is that type of experience that can truly lead a person to feeling old. (At least they enjoy the routine and the bit transcends time).