How to Choose a One-Minute Monologue for Your Next Audition

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At an audition, it’s up to you—and you alone—to create a scene, craft a narrative, and commit to a character in a way that showcases your talents. Choosing the right monologue to highlight your best qualities is imperative, since it can mean the difference between landing the role and never getting a callback. (No pressure, right?)

Pithy performances captivate audiences, so one of the best ways to encapsulate who you are as an actor is by choosing a one-minute monologue. This guide explores the power of brevity, what makes a good shorter monologue, and some of the best 60-second pieces, both dramatic and comedic.


Why choose a one-minute monologue?

Actor performing a monologueFrame Stock Footage/Shutterstock

There are many reasons, both creative and utilitarian, why you might decide to audition with a one-minute monologue, including:

  • It’s requested: Many auditions require performances in the short span of 60 seconds. Agents and casting directors decide whether they like an actor or not “in less than 10 seconds,” says acting coach Gwyn Gilliss. They are “used to seeing auditions on reels in short bursts,” agrees acting coach Craig Wallace. They may request a one-minute monologue to see if you can make an impression quickly.
  • It’s easy to memorize: One of the most important parts of performing an impressive monologue is memorizing the lines; it can feel distracting and tedious if you need to keep looking down at a script or notes. Going with a one-minute monologue means that memorizing your lines never becomes an issue.
  • It’s your elevator pitch: Although the expression brings Silicon Valley tech bros and wannabe writers to mind, the elevator pitch (literally, a pitch so brief and snappy it could be shared over the course of an elevator ride) is a marketing strategy that accentuates your talents. Studies indicate that the average person’s attention span is around 65 seconds. Existential crisis of the postmodern condition aside, this means that you can—and should—capitalize on the brevity of humans’ ability to focus by crafting the most compelling one-minute elevator pitch possible.

What makes a good one-minute monologue?

Actor performing a monologuePixel-Shot/Shutterstock

Even more so than with a lengthy piece, a one-minute monologue needs to immediately capture the attention of your audience. Aim to create a timely narrative with a clear perspective that inspires emotion. If you’re on the lookout for a new one-minute monologue, make sure that:

It fits you

This is not the time to try out a character far beyond your scope. Instead, choose a role that’s castable for you in terms of both utility (gender, age, size, accent) and creativity (does the character express an emotion you’ve actually felt or can empathize with?). It can be helpful to make a list of actors who fit your type. “Look at their body of work and find a project or role that resonates with you,” says Create Your Reel partner and writer Retta Putignano. Then, practice a short monologue from the project to see if it feels right for you and your capabilities.

It fits the audition

It’s generally best to choose a monologue that reflects the tone of the role or production you’re auditioning for: dark and emotional for a drama, and amusing and whimsical for a comedy. This will show your audience that you can fulfill the performance requirements of the role.

It’s timely

If an auditor requests a one-minute monologue, don’t try to push it by performing a two-minute one. It can be tempting to take more time to really display your talents, but part of what makes an agent or director want to work with an actor is their ability to follow instructions. Bedazzle your audience within the given parameters. 

It tells a story

Your monologue should create a discernible narrative centered on an idea, conflict, or emotion. To learn more about what packs a punch in such a brief narrative, it can be helpful to watch award-winning one-minute monologues and read through microfiction and flash fiction anthologies—even the spooky two-sentence horror subreddit. What these narratives all have in common is efficiency of text: showing, not telling. You don’t want to waste precious time explaining a scene to your audience. You want to act it.

It portrays a powerful point of view

Good monologues actively reveal the interior realm of a character’s thoughts and emotions and the reasons behind their actions. Monologues that entail a character reminiscing or jumping around between different ideas simply aren’t as compelling. If you can really illuminate what a character wants and their emotions surrounding a central idea or situation, you’ll draw in your audience. 

It evokes an emotional response

Your monologue should make your audience feel all the feels. Any kind of emotion (besides, perhaps, frustration that your delivery isn’t ideal) you draw out of your audience will connect you to them. Whether your piece is comedic, romantic, devastating, bittersweet, nostalgic, or evokes any other strong emotion, that connection forms a bridge between you and your audience that will keep them thinking of you and your performance. Acting coach Cathryn Hartt recommends ending on a strong emotion by using the last line for oppositional emphasis. “If you were yelling, whisper. If you were fast and erratic, go completely calm,” she says. “It will trigger some very interesting feelings inside your character.” 

Keep these elements in mind as you read through these top one-minute monologues from plays, film, and TV.

Dramatic one-minute monologues

Joker in 'The Dark Knight'Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight” Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

It can be difficult to deliver the intense and often stormy emotions needed for a dramatic monologue within such a short span of time. Fully familiarize yourself with your character and their story arc to ensure that your portrayal is in line with the larger story. These fantastic short dramatic monologues are sure to get you in touch with your inner tortured soul:


Lady Macbeth’s depravity, murderous desires, and desire to become “unsexed” drive this powerful scene. (This is often categorized as a soliloquy, but we’re counting it as a monologue since Lady Macbeth is speaking to “spirits of evil.” Who’s to say they’re any less real than the other characters?)

Lady Macbeth: The raven himself is hoarse
That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
Under my battlements. Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood;
Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
The effect and it! Come to my woman’s breasts,
And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers,
Wherever in your sightless substances
You wait on nature’s mischief! Come, thick night,
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,
To cry “Hold, hold!”

“The Tempest”

In this scene, the oppressed, monstrous Caliban rages at the injustice of his colonial relationship with Prospero, boasting his rightful place as ruler of the island by way of his witch mother, Sycorax.

Caliban: I must eat my dinner.
This island’s mine, by Sycorax my mother,
Which thou takest from me. When thou camest first,
Thou strokedst me and madest much of me, wouldst give me
Water with berries in’t, and teach me how
To name the bigger light, and how the less,
That burn by day and night: and then I loved thee
And show’d thee all the qualities o’ the isle,
The fresh springs, brine-pits, barren place and fertile:
Cursed be I that did so! All the charms
Of Sycorax, toads, beetles, bats, light on you!
For I am all the subjects that you have,
Which first was mine own king: and here you sty me
In this hard rock, whiles you do keep from me
The rest o’ the island.

“The Dark Knight”

While any of the Joker’s “Wanna know how I got these scars?” origin stories allow for creepy, captivating one-minute monologues, this one particularly captures the villain’s chaotic, tormented, bleakly paradoxical ideology. 

The Joker: You look nervous—it’s the scars, isn’t it? Wanna know how I got them? I had a wife, beautiful like you. Who tells me I worry too much. Who says I need to smile more. Who gambles. And gets in deep with the sharks. One day they carve her face, and we’ve got no money for surgeries. She can’t take it. I just want to see her smile again. I just want her to know I don’t care about the scars. So I put a razor in my mouth and do this to myself…. And you know what? She can’t stand the sight of me…. She leaves! See, now I see the funny side. Now I’m always smiling.

“Silver Linings Playbook”

This is the first time that Tiffany, a troubled widow, explains the deceptively simple story behind her devastating grief and guilt.

Tiffany: We were married for three years and five days, and I loved him. But for the last couple months, I just wasn’t into sex at all. It just felt like we were so different, and I was depressed. Some of that is just me; some of it was he wanted me to have kids and I have a hard enough time taking care of myself. I don’t think that makes me a criminal. Anyway, one night after dinner, he drove to Victoria’s Secret at King of Prussia Mall and got some lingerie to get something going. And on the way back, he stopped on 76 to help a guy with a flat tire, and he got hit by a car and killed. And the Victoria’s Secret box was still in the front seat. That’s a feeling.

Comedic one-minute monologues

Pixar's 'Incredibles'“The Incredibles” Courtesy Pixar/Disney

Funny monologues can feel easier to perform than dramatic ones since humor helps break the ice, but you should still brush up on your comedic acting chops before the audition. These selections can help bring out your funny side:

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

Bottom explores the topsy-turvy nature of the liminal space between the dream world and reality through his realization that he probably didn’t actually land a beautiful fairy queen. Metatextually, he also amusingly reminds the audience that they, too, are engaging with a realistic-feeling work of fiction. 

Bottom: When my cue comes, call me, and I will
answer: my next is, ‘Most fair Pyramus.’ Heigh-ho!
Peter Quince! Flute, the bellows-mender! Snout,
the tinker! Starveling! God’s my life, stolen
hence, and left me asleep! I have had a most rare
vision. I have had a dream, past the wit of man to
say what dream it was: man is but an ass, if he go
about to expound this dream. Methought I was—there
is no man can tell what. Methought I was, —and
methought I had, —but man is but a patched fool, if
he will offer to say what methought I had. The eye
of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not
seen, man’s hand is not able to taste, his tongue
to conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream
was. I will get Peter Quince to write a ballad of
this dream: it shall be called Bottom’s Dream,
because it hath no bottom; and I will sing it in the
latter end of a play, before the duke:
peradventure, to make it the more gracious, I shall
sing it at her death.

“Mean Girls: The Musical”

We hate a chance to miss out on the dozens of other immensely quotable lines from the play and the film it’s based on (“You go, Glen Coco!”). Still, Regina George’s amusing yet poignant reflections on gender, the afterlife, and getting hit by a bus make this a memorable monologue. 

Regina George: I’m going to forgive you. Because I’m on a lot of pain medication right now. You know I died for 15 seconds, right? Spoiler alert: Heaven looks like a really nice hotel in Miami. When I woke up in the street, all I could see was my mom’s face and Gretchen’s big face looking down at me. And they looked so surprised. Not even sad—just, like, surprised that I could be bleeding. Like they forgot I was a human person. I’ve actually been a human person this whole time. I know I was harsh. And people say I’m a bitch. But you know what they would call me if I was a boy? “Reginald.” That’s what my mom was gonna name me if I was a boy, so honestly, I’d rather be “bitch.”

“The Incredibles”

The villainous Syndrome, who uses his immense wealth and technology to fake it until he makes it as a superhuman, expresses his belief (which alludes to “Harrison Bergeron,” Kurt Vonnegut’s short story satirizing the concept of enforced equality) about the power of crippling mediocrity.

Syndrome: Oh, I’m real. Real enough to defeat you! And I did it without your precious gifts, your oh-so-special powers. I’ll give them heroics. I’ll give them the most spectacular heroics anyone’s ever seen! And when I’m old and I’ve had my fun, I’ll sell my inventions so that everyone can be superheroes. Everyone can be super! And when everyone’s super…no one will be.


In this scene, the highly particular Shoshanna breaks up with pessimistic Ray. She points out that she can’t stand how much Ray hates everything but says that despite his many character flaws, there’s a chance they could get back together in the future. 

Shoshanna: This isn’t working! OK…. So, I love you so much—like, to the end of the world and back—but sometimes I love you like I feel sorry for a monkey. Like they just need so much help, and they’re in those ugly cages. You know what I mean? And there’s nobody else—especially not a grown male blond You know me better than that. I just can’t deal with your negativity while I’m trying to grow into a fully formed human. I mean, you hate everything. Seriously. You hate everything. You hate the sound of children playing and you hate all of your living relatives and you hate people who wear sunglasses, even during the day, and you hate going to dinner, which you know I love! And you hate ribbons and you hate pillows and you hate colors—you hate everything! And I can’t be the only thing you like! And maybe I can deal with your black soul better when I’m older, but right now, I can’t handle it. So maybe you should go change, and then we can be in love at another time.

If none of these pieces feel right for you, try searching through our monologue database. With enough research and preparation, you can choose the perfect one-minute monologue to showcase your talents and crush your next audition.

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