In describing the differences between comedy and drama, Charlie Chaplin us to say that in a drama, a guy randomly slips on a banana peel and hurts himself- and the accident is a surprise. But in a comedy, we see the accident coming, we anticipate it, and even look forward it. In a drama, the guy that slips on the banana peel may sustain injuries, or even break a bone. In a comedy, something slapstick most likely happens.
Understanding the differences between comedy and drama can inform what audition performances we deliver in a casting room. If you're auditioning for a drama, you don't want to go to a casting call and inject any sort of physical comedy or hyperbole in your performance, even if bizarre things happen in the script. Conversely, if you're auditioning for a comedy, you don't want to waltz into a casting room with any heft, even if you're characters are going through stressful circumstances.
To be sure- there are common elements between comedies and dramas, and often the deciphering between the two can be razor thin decision. As Neil Simon once said "When I write comedies, I think of a sad story, and then I think about how to tell it funny."
So the next time you enter a casting facility, be sure to fully understand the type of production you're working on, and let the tone of the work ultimately inform your performance.