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Interview with Zade Shakir about Humorous Interpretation

On August 3, 2011, on behalf of Rate Speeches, Nura Kawa conducted an interview with Zade Shakir.  Zade was the second place finalist in 2010 Nationals of the National Forensics League (NFL) in high-school Humorous Interpretation, NFL Academic All-American with Degree of Outstanding Distinction, 2-Time California State Finalist (HI, Duo), Berkeley Invitational Finalist (Duo), James Logan MLK Invitational Finalist (Declamation), Stanford Invitational Champion and 3-Time Finalist (Duo), Santa Clara Invitational Champion and 3-Time Finalist (Duo), University School Sunvitational 3-Time Finalist (HI, Duo, Declamation).  The interview was about effective Humorous Interpretation techniques.

Nura:

What techniques can a person use to effectively get into character? Also, what is a good way to make characters distinct?

Zade:

Anyone can make a voice and call it a character, but to effectively create a realistic character one must really embody the person they are trying to create. Think as they would think. React as they would react. For the duration of your performance, you are a stranger and your character becomes your persona. A good way to make your characters distinct is by practicing your everyday activities at home in character. For instance, be your character at the family dinner. Don't just talk as your character, but also act and react as your character would.

Nura:

How can one improve their ability to make sound effects?

Zade:

One can improve his or her ability to make sound effects with practice! It's definitely not easy but watching lots of YouTube videos and recording yourself, you can definitely improve.

Nura:

What should a speaker consider when choosing a piece?

Zade:

A speaker should search for a piece that he or she is passionate about. Just because a coach or friends tells you that you should do a different piece doesn't mean that you have to do it. After all, it is YOU performing the piece, so choose something that you thoroughly enjoy. At the same time though, you should choose something that you think you could realistically pull off. If you don't think that you can play a lot of characters, stick with a selection that has fewer.

Nura:

What separates good and bad humorous interpretations? As in, what qualities make a speaker excellent?

Zade:

The funniest HI is not always the best HI. You have to keep in mind, what is funny to you and your friends is not always funny to judges. A lot goes into making a "good" humorous. You have to distinct characters, a coherent story line, appropriate humor, and clean "pops" (or transitions between characters). It is hard to say what the "perfect" HI qualities are because every judge has a different interpretation of what is good and what is not, but what I would say is the most important thing is that you maintain consistency in your performance (which can be attained through lots and lots of practice) and have a good time!

Nura:

Which feedback from judges is the most helpful in improving a speech?

Zade:

Compliments are nice to get from judges, but don't help much in developing you as a speaker. Constructive criticism is the best feedback from a judge. Hearing a balance of positive and constructive comments like, "I thought Character A was hilarious throughout, but Character B's accent seemed to fade in and out. A consistent Character B would enhance your performance" or "Great performance but the story line seemed to fall apart at the climax. Maybe more explanation could be used in the intro to set up the conclusion." are certainly the most helpful.