Make ’em Laugh . . . Even at the Tennis!

The Australian Open is a serious event. Players, coaches, umpires, dieticians, personal trainers and many other professionals travel to Melbourne to win this global tennis competition. But that doesn’t mean that everything has to be serious, does it?

There is a rather profound verse in the song ‘Make ‘em Laugh’ from Singin’ in the Rain which illustrates this point perfectly.

Now you could study Shakespeare and be quite elite
And you can charm the critics and have nothin’ to eat
Just slip on a banana peel
The world’s at your feet
Make ‘em Laugh
Make ‘em Laugh
Make ‘em Laugh

Of course, the role of seriousness is important when it comes to an international competition for tennis players, but in amongst all that seriousness it is necessary to break up the tension. Hence, you need variety in your offerings. And this is something that the Australian Open has been doing for a number of years.

In addition to the Men’s Singles and Doubles, the Women’s Singles and Doubles, Mixed Doubles, the Wheelchair matches and the Boys’ and Girls’ competitions (That is a lot of serious tennis) there is another competition . . . The Legends.

For those of you unfamiliar, it is a rather small competition where past legends from the tennis Hall of Fame come back and play doubles against other Hall of Fame members. For example, yesterday the courts were graced by the presence of Henri Laconte, Yannick Noah, Todd Woodbridge, Mark Woodforde and Martina Hingis, among others. There is very little competition in these matches and as a result the audience is treated to two sets hilarity as these professional players show off their skills and muck around on the court.

And guess what . . . with the exception of Rod Laver Arena, these matches pulled the biggest audiences that day! Some of the audience at these legends matches even came out of Rod Laver Arena to witness the return of these players to the tennis court.

So even though the audiences go to Melbourne Park to watch some serious tennis, that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be opportunities to Make ‘em Laugh.

And it happens across the board. Deep and thoughtful plays. Grim musicals.  Even in depressing or intense movies there are light opportunities to relieve the audience’s seriousness so that they can return to the important moments and focus.

Plus, if nothing else, it attracts some new audience members who may be turned away by the seriousness of the sport. This is why the exhibition and charity matches where players are given microphones are so well received on television!

You have to Make ‘em Laugh!