Amy Poehler and Tina Fey were hilarious last night hosting the Golden Globe Awards again. One technique some comedians use to engender laughter is to maintain a partially suppressed smile. One common colloquial term for this nonverbal facial expression is a "smirk". Audience members seeing a suppressed smile will tend to mirror this same behavior - and thus be more predisposed to breaking into laughter. We tend to smile when other people smile, we also are more likely to cry when others cry, etc. Of course every comedian wants to be truly funny and of course they don't all use this method. And often the comedian who maintains this near laughter state will break into laughter themselves - and then they'll need a real suppressed smile to avoid from outright laughing. So this is a delicate balance. Enough smile to make others laugh - but not too much to evoke laughing themselves.
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