Humorous Interpretation

Purpose of Humorous Interp

Humorous Interpretation (HI), is an individual event where the student memorizes and delivers an entertaining selection with humor. The student takes the piece chosen for use in Humorous Interpretation from a single source. The source may include a choice of published printed novels, short stories, plays, poems, and motion picture screenplays.

The student should select from a work that is appropriate for the contestant’s personality and strengths. In performing the piece, the contestant attempts to convey the humor of the literature orally through narration and characterization. Students do well at HI by working to perfect the flow, function, and mood of the interpretation. Students use dynamic body language, character changes, and voice manipulation to convey the characters and enhance the humor. Students improve their delivery through practice and a better understanding of all of the characters and their relationships.

Rules of Humorous Interpretation

The nature of the selected literature must be humorous.

Coaches and students must have the source material available to the tournament director upon request. Copies are acceptable. Failure to have a copy of the source to provide upon request will result in the disqualification of the student in one round.

The speaker’s presentation must be memorized to qualify for awards. The interpretation cannot include the use of props or costumes unless otherwise set in the tournament rules.

The participant may not use a selection from the same source that he or she used in a prior event, either in the current school year or past years. During a particular tournament, the competitor must use the same selection throughout the duration thereof, but the student may not use the work for a different event at the same tournament.

An introduction is required in which the performer states the author’s name and the work’s title. The speaker gives any other necessary information and uses a few words to set the tone for the humorous interpretation. Usually, the speaker provides the introduction after a minute or so of the piece has been delivered, at a natural break-point.

For continuity of the cutting from a large piece of literature, it may be necessary to add transitions to the cutting. However, at no time may the cutting change gender of any character or change the original intent of the author’s work.

The time limit is 10 minutes with a 30 second grace period.

Tips for success in HI:

  • All pops, or character transitions, are to be smooth, quick, and fluid
  • Interpretation is most of what you will be ranked by, so know the plot, the characters, the theme, and everything about the work
  • All gestures, stances, facials, vocals/intonations need to support that character (and needs to be unique to that particular character), help tell a story, and be clear
  • Diction is important
  • No moving—you must stand in one place but are allowed to change stance for different characters
  • Eye contact is a must

What is Humorous Interpretation? More Links:

Excelling at Humorous Interpretation: An Advanced Guide

Humorous Interp Showcase Video

Video: What is Humorous Interpretation?