It is absolutely essential to the success of this piece that it should be played with the most perfect earnestness and gravity throughout. There should be no exaggeration in costume, make-up, or demeanour; and the characters, one and all, should appear to believe, throughout, in the perfect sincerity of their words and actions. Directly the actors show that they are conscious of the absurdity of their utterances the piece begins to drag.- W.S. Gilbert, note to his play Engaged
I think we had shown him [Leslie Nielsen] Zero Hour! previously because we wanted him to see the style. We told everyone that "playing it straight" doesn't quite do it, because [when they do that] they think they have it, but they're still winking. We told them to play it like they don't know they're in a comedy. Like no one told them. Just the way Leslie would have played this in The Poseidon Adventure, or any other of the films or television shows he had done.- Jerry Zucker, co-director of Airplane!