Top positive review
21 people found this helpful
Interesting and insightful
on 5 July 2006
This book is interesting for several reasons. Firstly it's written by an experienced stand-up / compere, and more recently the lecturer behind a university stand-up course. Whether stand-up can be taught is a curious debate, and one that Double is better placed than most to explore. That he clearly believes in the value of teaching stand-up skills makes him an excellent person to learn from, and his enthusiasm for the subject carries throughout the book.
Secondly, this is the only book I'm aware of to successfully cover the full spectrum of stand-up comedy. While most books focus on one area or another, this book covers three distinct but inter-related elements that are essential reading for anyone who's working in stand-up or interested in it as an art form. Double takes us from the foundations of stand-up, via variety and music hall, to the modern comedy scene. Then he takes us through the mechanics of stand-up, including the process of writing jokes and structuring a set. Finally, he covers the actual experience of performing stand-up. The highs and lows, and the emotional effect of standing in front of a mic trying to make people laugh.
It's pretty rare that you find all three elements covered as succinctly and effectively is they are in this book, and it's a reflection of his experience as an academic and a working comic. But it's also to a large extent a result of the way he's contructed the book based on interviews with past and current stand-up comics. He's obviously spent many long hours with comics, and the book is literally packed with quotations. And by using their words to discuss arguments, and by drawing on their real life experience, Double's put together a very effective and engaging book indeed. It's unquestionably well researched, and as a result carries great weight and value.
I'd previously read Oliver Double's 'Stand Up!: On Being A comedian', and in some ways the two books overlap. But this newer book is bigger, covers more ground, and has more depth than his previous effort. Example: Stand up! has a sizable section on British comedy. In Getting the Joke Double extends this but also puts it into a global context by also charting the rise of stand-up in the USA. So if you've already read the former, it's definitely worth getting hold of a copy of this one too.