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The Comic Toolbox: How to Be Funny Even If You're Not [Paperback]

John Vorhaus
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.99
Price: 8.50 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Frequently Bought Together

The Comic Toolbox: How to Be Funny Even If You're Not + The Serious Guide to Joke Writing: How To Say Something Funny About Anything + Be a Great Stand-Up: Teach Yourself
Price For All Three: 29.92

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Product details

  • Paperback: 191 pages
  • Publisher: Silman-James Press,U.S. (1 Sep 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1879505215
  • ISBN-13: 978-1879505216
  • Product Dimensions: 22.5 x 15.7 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 211,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

The Comic Toolbox The Comic Toolbox is a straightforward, often humorous workbook approach to creative problem solving. Vorhaus offers writers and comics, the tools of the trade -- "clash of context, " "tension and release, "the law of comic opposites, " "the wildly inappropriate response" and more. Readers will learn that comedy = truth and pain -- the essence of the comic situation -- and that fear is the biggest roadblock to comedy. Kill your ferocious editor within, and rich, useful comic ideas will flow.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great ideas on structure for *all* writers. 9 Jan 2008
Format:Paperback
This and Vorhaus's other book on writing, "Creativity Rules" have been invaluable in helping me write more shapely fiction and I immediately recommend them to anyone who tells me they want to write, too.

His ideas on story structure are presented in a fun and funny way, but whenever I approach other books on writing I feel like Vorhaus got there first with this light little book, before all the guys with their deeply important mythic cycle breezeblock-workbooks hung around their necks -- and he got there with a smile on his face.

His principles on comedy in this book have given me what feels like X-ray vision when it comes to watching popular culture of any kind. This is someone who's been paying close attention to how story, humour, and thinking work, and he's given us all his crib notes.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I wish you could judge it by it's cover... 8 Dec 2010
By Houndog
Format:Paperback
I wish these books would be more specific in their title's. You get 'Comic toolbox', 'comedy writing' etc. all of them pretending to cover every comedic possibility. The truth is this book is a largely about old sitcoms and screenplays. Some of the additional 'tools'that you might use for stand-up etc are only given one paragraph and are only presented as ideas rather than giving a real grasp of how to use it. Interesting in places but a 'comic toolbox' it is not!
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent start to wannabe writers 25 Jan 2006
By olly
Format:Paperback
I have read and re-read this book in its entirety, and in my view is invaluable if you want to become a more confident writer/performer or just want to have a deeper understanding of what humour actually is. The author offers many exercises for the reader to complete. This built up my confidence and made me realise that you can make a whole bunch of boring and mundane parts of life into supremely comedy sequences.
First the basics of what makes us laugh are explained. The book then moves into defining how to make your comic characters and to forget about why you think a certain aspect is unfunny.
After this the book is split up into seperate sections depending on which field of comedy you wish to pursue, be it sitcom, sketch, stand-up, and, ahem, practical jokes (it is hard to show sarcasm through text).
The end of the book applies to every comedian, helping you to perfect your work, and ultimately selling your material.
Unfortunately the book is not prfect throughout. Most explainations of certain comic situations involve the use of a 1980's film or tv series, so if you are under the age of, say 25 like me (or, if you didn't watch American shows of the 80's) I would strongly suggest buying Mel Helitzer's Comedy Writing Secrets, 2005. Apart from this I strongly recommend this book, trust me you can't go wrong.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Academic approach to writing 9 Dec 2010
Format:Paperback
Mr. Vorhaus's real tool (if you'll excuse the expression) is that he's very good at analysis. This book does a broad sweep of some classic old sitcoms and screen plays or `telling of stories' as he puts it. He analyses what's been done and then says to the reader `now you do that.' I know from teaching joke writing myself that some students need more than that, hence the mixed reviews. An interesting book but his approach is academic and the tools are a bit vague.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very funny book about being funny 6 Dec 2010
By Di20
Format:Paperback
I have read lots of similar books but this one definitely stands out. Why?
1) Full of practical, fun, inspiring exercises - more of a workbook than a theory book.
2) very straightforward approach, friendly, funny, full of good advice
3) Advice that can be directly and practically applied on your work AND some inspiring words on being creative in general, working hard, finding inspiration. But mostly the fun stuff.

Beautiful book, highly recommended for comedy writers, stand-up comedians, but also any type of writers.

"Every time you make someone laugh, you bring joy into the universe and make your world, in some small way, a better place to be. Respect this gift, honor it, and take responsibility for it. Comedy is no innocent thing, but a powerful, often subversive force of change." (p.190)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Penny Finally Drops........ 7 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback
Great book. Very readable, very informative and one that will also serve as a useful reference tome. At high school I had a maths teacher who was going through the motions. In my final year I had a teacher who was totally dedicated to his job. His lessons were a revelation and mathematical processes that I could do (although I was unsure how) were explained and made sense. Reading this book about comedy writing has mirrored that experience in school. Unfortunately for us Brits all the comedians he refers to are American (the book was written for an American readership so you cannot really blame him) so a few of the names he cites are probably unfamiliar to most readers outside the US/Canada. However, some of the techniques /tools Vorhaus uses can be applied to British comedians and sit-coms.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excllent compact guide. 11 Feb 2008
By john
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book was recommended to me by a BBC producer when I started trying to write comedy. Yes it's simplistic, but it works. JV gives you a brilliant method for developing characters and plots. I still dip into it now and again when I'm struggling with something. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone. It's a nice slim volume rather than a big fat tome, too. Which is nice.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Bought for my son as another recommendation from a professional comedienne as he wants to try stand up comedy. He has rated this as easy to read and a great help.
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