From balancing the drama inherent in comedy to understanding slightly awkward characters, tackling comedic monologues can be a difficult task for a teen actor. The first step to nailing comedy is finding good material. This can be challenging, as students often fall into the trap of choosing generic monologues or focusing on surface-level gags. Remember, the best examples should be active instead of passive, age-appropriate, and relatable. With that in mind, here are seven comedic theatrical monologues for teens.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare: Helena
How happy some o'er other some can be!
Through Athens I am thought as fair as she,
But what of that? Demetrius thinks not so;
He will not know what all but he do know.
And, as he errs, doting on Hermia's eyes,
So I, admiring of his qualities.
Things base and vile, holding no quantity,
Love can transpose to form and dignity.
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.
Nor hath Love's mind of any judgment taste;
Wings and no eyes figure unheedy haste.
And therefore is Love said to be a child
Because in choice he is so oft beguiled.
As waggish boys in game themselves forswear,
So the boy Love is perjured everywhere.
For ere Demetrius looked on Hermia's eyne
He hailed down oaths that he was only mine,
And when this hail some heat from Hermia felt,
So he dissolved, and showers of oaths did melt.
I will go tell him of fair Hermia's flight.
Then to the wood will he tomorrow night
Pursue her. And for this intelligence
If I have thanks it is a dear expense.
But herein mean I to enrich my pain,
To have his sight thither and back again.
Helena’s soliloquy here oozes with insecurity and angst, which makes it perfect for a teen girl to play to maximum effect. We can see her insecurities peeping through as she tries to convince Demetrius to return her affection. Teens can also try out an adaptation of the monologue, like in “A Midsummer Night in the OC” by D. Tupper McKnight, which has all the humor of Shakespeare’s original play mixed with modern references that they’re sure to connect to.
“All This Intimacy” by Rajiv Joseph: Jen
Ty... I wasn’t going to bring this up today, but seeing as you have laryngitis, I figured this might be the best time to have this conversation. Because any inclination you might have to interrupt me, well, that just won’t be possible because you can’t speak. Ha. Oh well. OK, OK... Just sit still for a second and let me speak before you start scribbling away like a madman, jeez! I knew you’d do this or something, just sit and let me say my peace! (Jen reads what he wrote.) Look, I know it is, but I kind of have to seize the moment here. Whenever we talk you always talk me out, you put words in my mouth. (Ty writes again and shows the page. Jen reads.) No! That’s NOT what I mean! Listen, OK. (Ty: Beat.) So. As you know. As we both well know... There has never been a time in my life, really ever, when I haven’t been, you know...in school. And I know I’m always saying this, OK? Let me finish! (Jen reads the notebook. Ty scrawls something brief. She reads.) You know I don’t like that word, and it’s rude. (He scrawls another word, seemingly profane.) Nice. Thank you. Shut up. OK! God! I can’t believe you have laryngitis and you’re still interrupting me! Constantly! Look, I’m going to talk and you can listen or you can not listen, but here it is. When it comes to figuring out what to do with my life, I’ve been seriously claustrophobic. Because choosing things narrows down your life, it limits you and it freaks me out. I’m not kidding. Every time you make a decision, you narrow your life more and more... I mean that’s what you’re supposed to do! It’s about carving out an identity before you get old and die! (Ty scrawls.) No. NO! I don’t want sushi! I’m not staying for dinner! (Ty scrawls.) BREAK UP, OK? BREAK. UP. Me. Break up. With you. How about that! Oh, but this has never happened to Ty Greene before because he’s too smooth a talker and no one can ever get two words in—(Ty scrawls.) I’m not going to read your shit! (Ty writes. Shows her earnestly. She reads it in spite of herself. She looks at him and then away.) We’ve talked about this! And don’t look at me like that! You know. You have your book and your job and you’re hot shit and all that, so you don’t know what I’m talking about. (Ty scrawls “So?!” and shows her.) So that’s it. And by the way, a year ago you broke up with me. Out of the blue! So don’t act all heartbroken. (Ty looks at her, heartbroken.) Yeah yeah yeah. (Ty scrawls something and shows her.) Very funny. No! I don’t want that. That’s what we’ve been doing. No more fooling around. No more hooking up. No more having your cake and eating it too. (Ty scrawls.) That’s what I meant by cake. (Ty scrawls one word.) It’s not you. I just never feel that we’re on the same page. This is what I’m talking about, Ty. I’m trying to pull things together. I love you, but when I’m around you, things come apart. They come apart.
The character Jen’s hilarious attempts to wring some emotion out of her boyfriend are foiled by her own ineptitude in her monologue here. While we laugh at her seriousness as she spars with the laryngitis-stricken boy, we can also appreciate her genuine attempts to understand her place in the world, an endeavor that endears her to us beyond the surface-level humor.
“Dags” by Debra Oswald: Gillian
All right. I’m going to admit something I never thought I’d admit to anyone ever. I’ve got a crush on Adam. Head over heels. Uncontrollable passion, et cetera. Unrequited passion, of course. Now I know this sounds like I’m throwing away everything I’ve said so far. And I guess I am. I know every girl at school except Monica is in love with him. I know he’d never go for a dag like me. I know it’s hopeless. I know all that. But I can’t help it. Just thinking he might look at me, my heart starts pounding like mad. And then I worry about whether he can tell my heart’s going crazy, and I have to act really cool. This crush—it’s like a disease. Do you know—oh, I’m almost too embarrassed to admit this—Adam misses the bus sometimes. ’Cos he’s chatting up some girl or something. And do you know what I do? I get off the bus after one stop and walk back to school, so I can hang ’round the bus stop hoping he’ll turn up. Just so I can ride on the same bus with him. Isn’t that the most pathetic thing you’ve ever heard? I’m crazy. I can lie here for hours thinking about him. Writing these movies in my head where Adam and me are the stars. I try to imagine how he’d notice me and fall hopelessly in love with me and all that. Like, one of my favorites is that the bus breaks down one day in this remote place and there we are stranded together. He discovers that I was this really fascinating woman all along. Far more interesting than all those silly girls at school. But—I say that I can’t bear to be just another notch on his belt. So Adam has to beg me to go out with him. Grovel, almost. That’s a pretty over-the-top version.
This piece really does call out the oxymoron of adolescence. Teen girls will relate with not fitting in, attempts to be popular, and waking up with pimples that will ruin your day. Told through the eyes of a girl with her head in a bag, the monologue really just gives teens an opportunity to let loose about the stress of adolescence. It dials up the melodrama, angst, and confusion, making it easy to connect with it and really have fun.
“I Ought to Be in Pictures” by Neil Simon: Libby
I was wondering if I could discuss something with you. It’s about sex. Don't get nervous. If you get nervous, I'll get nervous. I’m in trouble…I mean…I don't know how to do anything sexual. Most of the people left the party. And Gordon and I were sitting at the bottom of the hill in a car. And he wanted to fool around. He's not gorgeous but he's kinda cute. And I felt very grateful to him, and I didn't want to hurt his feelings. And I wanted to fool around too. Only I didn't know what was right. I didn't want to be one of those girls they call ‘‘easy,'' but I didn't want to be impossible either. So I just kissed him and got out of the car and decided not to deal with it. But this Saturday night I think I'm going to have to deal with it. I never talked about these things with my mother because she doesn't trust men too much. You can guess why. And Grandma… Well, sex isn't her best subject. I brought it up a couple of times but she pretended she was dead. I know how sex works. I don't have any mechanical problems. I've seen five X-rated movies. I could pass a test on it. I just don't know what to expect—emotionally. And I need to discuss it and you're my father. And what you think means a lot to me. If it's a major trauma for you, I understand. I mean, I could always take a couple of glasses of wine and just plunge in. I’ve got to have my first time sometime. If it's not Gordon, I could always use the information. Should I ask you some questions? Well… Emotionally, is it different for the man than it is for the girl? It is? How old were you the first time? FIFTEEN? Who was the girl? Okay, never mind. So, what was it like with Mom? That's a very personal question, isn't it? Did you do it with her before or after you were married? She said after. I knew she lied. She just couldn’t talk to me about those things. That's why I'm talking to you. I wanted to know how she felt. If she was scared or excited. Was it fun? Was it painful? I didn't think it was an unreasonable question. I mean, if she could teach me how to walk, why couldn't she teach me how to love? So what was she like? Making love. Because she was so angry when you left. So bitter. I don't think she ever slept with another man after you were gone. It's like when you left, you took her with you. That's why I was so angry with you. It was bad enough you were gone, but you could have left my mother there for me. She used to hug me so hard sometimes. Like she was trying to squeeze all the love out of me that she wasn't getting anywhere else. So instead of growing up to be me, I grew up to be a substitute—I know Grandma’s dead. I know she probably can’t hear me. But I speak to her every day anyway because I'm not so sure anyone else is listening. If I have to go for an interview, my heart pounds so much you can see it coming through my blouse…. If you want the God's honest truth, I don't even want to be an actress. I don't know the first thing about acting. I don't know what I want to be... (Beginning to break down) I just wanted to come out here and see you. I just wanted to know what you were like. I wanted to know why I was so frightened every time a boy wanted to reach out and touch me…. I just wanted somebody in the family to hold me because it was me, Libby, and not somebody who wasn't there. (Crying) I love Mom so much. I didn't mean to say anything against her. It's just that she won't let me inside. When she holds me, all I can feel is her arms…but I never feel what's inside. (Crying openly now; turns away) Boy oh boy… Really opened up the old waterworks. I never expected to do that. I hope you have flood insurance.
Is there anything more awkward than a girl and her dad having “the talk”? Not when Libby is in charge. Although Libby doesn’t have one long speech, you can splice together some of Simon’s witty dialogue. This cut is more of a dramatic comedy as Libby transitions from her initial nervous ramblings about her crush into the pain she feels over her strained relationship with her mother, and the lyricism is impressive throughout. The subject matter is more mature, so it’s best for an older teen, but Libby’s sporadic changes in tone make this an impressive monologue for anyone who likes the opportunity to explore a multilayered character.
“Serendipity and Serenity” by Jonathan Marc Sherman: Lionel
Bathrooms are my favorite places. I mean, they’re so organic. Just the real essentials of life. Hell, if you just put in a refrigerator, bring a pillow and a few good books, you’d never have to leave, pretty much. They’re also really depressing. I mean, how many ways can you kill yourself in a bathroom. Let’s see—there’s the incredibly obvious and overdone slicing of the wrists with a razor blade, and the less common but more colorful slicing of the jugular vein. I suppose people stick to their wrists most of the time because it’s easier to cover up if you mess up and live. I mean, all you need to do is wear a watch, or long sleeved shirts, or a sweatband on your wrist. With the jugular you have to wear turtlenecks even on the hottest day of the summer. Then, you can always get some rope, make a noose and hang yourself on the shower rod. And, if you don’t know how to make a noose, don’t despair—it’s in the Cub Scout manual. I think it’s listed under “suicide,” but I can’t be sure of that. Those Cub Scouts can be very tricky sometimes. You can drown yourself in the tub, or, if you have a flair for symbolism, in the toilet. Or, I imagine, you could probably figure out a way to do it in the sink. You could always just lock the door and starve to death, but that probably takes patience. Then, of course, there’s always pills—any kind will probably do the trick. I heard that Tylenol’s one of the deadliest—of course, you have to take, like, a whole bottle, but what the hell, why would you want to save any, right?
Jonathan Marc Sherman wrote several plays for the Young Playwrights Festival in his youth, so you can rest assured he knows how teenagers think. That understanding comes through in every line of dialogue. His dark humor is tinged with adolescent fear without being overly melodramatic. Lionel’s monologue from this play, which takes place in a bathroom, can be performed by both boys and girls and is always a winner.
“Everything Will Be Different” by Mark Schultz: Freddie
Um. Hi. Charlotte. Um. Okay I know this is awkward and everything. Me just coming here and all. Like this. I mean I know I just really met you and everything. But I’ve seen you. Really. And I just gotta. I had to come and tell you. You know. And. This is embarrassing. I know. And I don’t mean it to be. It’s not supposed to be. I mean. But. Jesus, it’s cold out, right? Anyway there’s like a million things I wanna tell you right now, Charlotte. And I just. I don’t know. Like. You have such a cool room. I really like your bedspread. Um. This is usually the other way around. Okay I’ve seen you. And. You are so. Pretty. I think. I mean. I think you’re pretty. Right. Um. So I’ll just come out and say it. Okay. I think I love you. Charlotte. I really do. And. It’s not like this happens every day. You know. For me. I don’t just like fall in love with people. It’s hard. And I’ve really fallen for you. And I know it’s stupid and like. Stupid and everything. But. I wanna know if maybe we can go out and be like boyfriend girlfriend or something I don’t know. ’Cause I’m really. I’m. In love. With you. And it’s hard. Keeping it inside. All the time. And I came here to say that. And ask you. You know. If we can maybe. Go out sometime. And. Eat something. Or. Watch a movie. Or I don’t know. I got a great entertainment system at home. I could show you. DVD. Surround sound and everything. It’s really cool. But. You know. We could go out and. Maybe I could touch you. And. Maybe you’d let me kiss you. I mean if that’s okay. Is that okay? ’Cause I really love you. I really wanna be with you. It’s so important to me right now. I really. Just had to come and tell you. I couldn’t wait. Um. Shit I gotta get back to practice. Um. Okay. I love you. Please love me. Oh. And. I’m really sorry. About your mom. Being dead and all. That sucks. I gotta go.
The confusion of this character is both hilarious and endearing as he tries to convince Charlotte, a girl who doesn’t know him particularly well, that they should “be like boyfriend girlfriend or something.” After he stumbles through history’s most awkward pick-up monologue, the audience will be rolling at his final, darkly random apology over the death of Charlotte’s mother.
“From Up Here” by Liz Flahive: Charlie
I wrote you that song. I wrote it because when I see you, normally, it’s just, it’s just a mess. When I think about you I can’t breathe and I look at you and I’m not sure you’re real. You just look like…
Like if someone were to say, Hey can you draw a girl and I drew you they’d be like, hey, that’s a perfect drawing of a girl, you’re a real good artist.
And my hands get all shaky when I want to touch you and you know that great hollow feeling you get in your stomach when you see someone you’ve been thinking about for days and then you turn the corner and there they are.
And it’s like… (he exhales all the air in his lungs until the breath just stops) And the bottom drops out and I feel like I have no actual mass or dimension and it’s like maybe I’m seeing you at that moment after having thought about you because you were, at the same time, thinking about me. And that’s how we ended up at the exact same place in the exact same moment. By thinking about it that much. Do you need a ride?
This piece is a more mature version of “Everything Will Be Different.” It has all of the awkward, stumbling romance of the Schultz piece, but the character Charlie is slightly older and more in control of what he says. It’s a dynamic monologue, with beats of contemplation juxtaposed with Charlie’s anxious ramblings. It is an easy monologue for lovesick teenage boys to understand.
While searching for a great comedic monologue, you may also want to consider these 10 contemporary plays for teen actors—another excellent resource for audition material. Enjoy the search! You’re sure to have fun exploring different playwrights and styles of writing to see what speaks to you.
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