Few Forensicators are fortunate enough to have Duo divided into Humorous and Dramatic categories (some leagues divide the two genres). A majority of you will have to decide between Comedy or Drama for your piece. Why Duo does not separate the two genres is mind-boggling. To rank competitors in two enormously varied genres of performance seems cruel. Regardless, you will be forced to weigh the pros and cons and decide.
One of the first questions you should ask is what genre you are drawn to. Then, find a Duo partner who feels the same. Truly ask yourself what focus of discipline, Dramatic or Comedic, you want to master. Are you more comfortable discussing heavy topics seriously or playfully? Do you have the timing for Comedy? Do you possess the intensity for Drama? Do you prefer to laugh or be moody? Which genre would help you grow more as an actor? What genre are you and your partner best suited for based on how you interact? Why do you want to do either genre? If you are leaning towards Comedy or Drama only because that is what is popular in your area then you are choosing a genre unwisely. Do what the Duo wants, or you both might become miserable and risk your performance.
As you contemplate a Dramatic or Comedic Duo there are a few considerations to be made. Be aware that both Comedy and Drama essentially do the same thing if they are great stories: discuss a serious issue, albeit with totally different methods. Obviously, Drama is more serious in tone while Comedy uses humor to answer questions. That said, there are definite pros and cons to either genre.
Comedy will allow for greater use of timing (a talent more instinctive than taught), physicality (slap stick for instance or fast blocking), and exaggeration (bigger facials/vocals/etc.). If you can get the laugh (definitely easier to say than do) you might have more of a chance of being remembered as well. People love to smile and laugh, so your Duo could also easily become a crowd favorite. And while you create laughter you do so while maintaining some reality, for the greatest comedians know that while one can be silly there must always be an anchor to the serious so the audience can relate. Keep in mind though that earning laughter is challenging, exhausting work. Also, finding the balance between clown and poignant is not as easy as one might think.
Drama will test your range in a somber manner. There may be some jokes, but mostly the Duo will be serious so use of variation becomes critical to avoid boredom. You get to act more realistically as well. Blocking is easier because there is typically less movement. You will be able to deliver that intense speech you have always dreamed of. And audiences relish at watching a well-done Dramatic dialogue. Further, audiences connect to a Dramatic persona with ease because of the nature of Drama being realistic and more “like us.” Remember though that Dramas are viewed with a very critical Dramacool eye. Acting is always subjective, but your great speech can be torn apart. Also, if a Drama becomes too heavy and clunky from lack of energy than you might look into the audience and see yawns.
An important note: Dramatic Duos are often taken more seriously (sorry for the pun) than Comedic ones. For some reason Drama is considered a higher form of art than Comedy. That is a research paper in itself, but it is suffice to say that if you choose a Dramatic Duo that you will have the privilege of weighing in on the subconscious (or not!) thought that Drama is better. A high number of Duos are Dramas as well, thus the Comedies are like the black sheep of Duo. The stigma that Drama is harder than Comedy is depressing at best, but you cannot change theatrical mythology overnight. Be warned, if you select a Comedic Duo you may face the brunt of this Drama Vs Comedy being better/harder debate and lose to Dramas.
Whichever genre your Duo decides the most important thing to remember is to choose a good script that fits the Duo. Analyze the text thoroughly, interpret, and begin the rehearsal process of honestly performing the script. It’s rough that Drama and Comedy are lumped into one category when they so clearly are entirely different. A Drama and Comedy might both discuss the matter of love and proposing, but when one uses heartfelt words and another is a ridiculous marriage proposal gone wrong, then you know deciding which genre to choose requires contemplation. Ask what you and your Duo partner would prefer, mull over the pros and cons, and decide if your Duo will be the next Al Pacino/Robert DeNiro pair or the new Gene Wilder/Richard Pryor.