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COMIC INSIGHTS: The Art of Stand-up Comedy Paperback – 1 Mar 2002

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 1 pages
  • Publisher: SILMAN-JAMES PRESS; 1 edition (1 Mar. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1879505541
  • ISBN-13: 978-1879505544
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 2.1 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 756,827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


If you want to build a stand-up comedy career, this book is a must read. If you want to write comedy, this book is a must-read. If you simply enjoy comedy ...this book is a must read. Part One offers essential advice about understanding the fundamentals of stand-up, studying other comedians, finding your own style, writing your material, working the live performance, and appearing on television. Fascinating, candid, insightful interviews with today's top comedians, who discuss at length why and how they do what they do, comprise Part Two, the bulk of the book. The third and last part of the book addresses your stand-up career through interviews with noted comedy club owners, an agent, a personal manager, and a television talent co-ordinator. Literally crammed with the wisdom of today's finest stand-up comics, in terms of quality, quantity, and timeliness information, this book is without peer.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I picked up "Comic Insights" because they're aren't any good books on comedy by British authors and I was a fan of Jerry Seinfeld, Roseanne, Chris Rock, Garry Shandling, and Ellen DeGeneres--the only American comedians in the book I knew. Comic Insights is clearly aimed as a manual for the aspiring stand-up, and the aspiring American stand-up at that. Given the indefinable nature of comedy, Ajaye sensibly steers well clear of providing advice on how to be funny, concentrating instead on how to be more funny.
It's a book of three unequal thirds, starting with a definitive 'how to' guide for the would-be stand-up. This section is jam-packed with invaluable pearls of wisdom about the mechanics of the craft. These basic tips are often common sense, and are generally regarded as universal truths among performers, but they do need to be said, especially for the rookie.
Mostly, the key is self-awareness: knowing what makes your voice and persona uniquely funny; knowing how your delivery, stage presence and timing went,; and knowing how that affected the laughs you get.
Sensibly, Ajaye recommends aspiring stand-ups study their comedy idols to find out what makes them funny (though definitely not trying to blindly emulate them) and suggests you always record your faltering efforts on stage to analyse what went wrong - or right.
The book's crammed full of such fundamental tips, which no rookie should take to the stage without knowing.
Occasionally the language veers into the unfortunate buzzwords of the training industry, but there's no diluting the rock-solid advice at the heart of it.
The book is very incisive and has a wealth of good information that can help anybody starting out as a comic now matter what country they live in.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was recommended to read this book as I start out on the Comedy circuit and can also recommend to anybody who is thinking of doing the same. It gives you the true insight to some of the greatest comedians that have ever trodden the boards and I am delighted with the honest answers they give. It makes me feel motivated to at least try comedy now knowing that my fears and worries are normal. Brilliant book.
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Format: Paperback
This is a lovely book that mines the lives and minds some very impressive American comedians including Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock (my favourites). I think the title `insights' is right, because the practical section is very short. There are seven pages on `first steps in comedy', eight pages on `writing material' and excitingly seven pages on `doing television talk shows'.
I think this is a book for comics to curl up in bed with and dream that their heroes are on conversation with them, egging them on and giving them tips about stand-up.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Fantastic insight to comedy
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9d00dfc0) out of 5 stars 78 reviews
46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d018a20) out of 5 stars A CLASSIC for those who love, do or want to do comedy 4 Jun. 2003
By Joel L. Gandelman - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
According to author Franklyn Ajaye, he was partly inspired in his successful comedy, writing and producing careers by Larry Wilde's Great Comedians Talk About Comedy, a 1968 question & answer style interview book, reprinted in 2000 (available on Wilde's book contains insightful interviews with late 20th century top comedians and Ajaye hoped his own Comic Insights would be along the same lines.
In fact, Comic Insights, a book containing interviews with some of the early 21st century's comic geniuses, is as good as or even better than Wilde's wonderful and still timely book.
The reason: Comic Insights contains not only great interviews but also specific and concise advice on standup comedy performance technique -- complete with easy-to-review notes at the end of key chapters. It's one of the best books ever published on the subject.
Comic Insights is required reading for ANYONE remotely or seriously interested in performing comedy, key comedy techniques, the comedian's mind-set, goal-setting,
perseverance, the need to be YOU onstage and -- a crucial subject incredibly ignored in most comedy books ...TIMING. Hopefully it'll be reprinted periodically, like Wilde's
book. If it isn't and you don't have a copy then you'll be out of luck because you'll be missing a vital potential comedy tool.
This book was so fascinating, easy to read, and had so much good information, facts, performing tips and inspiration that I virtually defaced it with my colored-marker underlinings and little notes written in ink. Any second the Book Police will (rightfully) arrest me .....
The first section is one of the most readable explanations of key standup tricks of the trade ever written. If an aspiring comedian uses some of these principles it could save him years of bombing. Ajaye also includes helpful review notes at the end of each of these sections.
There are far too many superb tips to list here, but a few include studying WHY top comedians are funny; studying the use of timing, body language and visual effects. The importance of recording and analyzing your act. And, critically, the importance of being yourself in performance and act content: "The hacks can steal your joke but they can't steal the way you look at life," he writes.
Peppered throughout are the BEST written explanations (from him and other comedians) on timing EVER published. He points to the famous (and sadly not re-run) eternal master of timing Jack Benny and notes that timing is a way to "light the fuse" on a
joke, by taking a pause to deliver a punchline. Don't "be afraid of silent moments," he advises, and wait until a laugh naturally subsides before moving to another joke.

The second section includes a wide range of the 21st century's top laugh-makers (again too many to cite here). Some key highlights include:
---LOUIE ANDERSON, a master of setting up routines, using his eyes, space and silence, inspired by Jack Benny. Anderson says: "The secret behind timing is to hold whatever you're going to say until you absolutely have to say it."
--ELAYNE BOOSLER on the importance of taping an act, listening to it, analyzing it and enhancing it..
--GEORGE CARLIN'S great explanation of how evolved from a jacket-and-tie comediandoing stock, standard jokes in front of people who he realized where his parents' friends into a comedy icon for his own and younger generations by changing his jokes, dress
(getting fired for it) his attitude -- and the way many comedians forever would do comedy.
--ELLEN DEGENERES & PAUL REISNER: The slowing down joke delivery.
--JAY LENO: The importance of learning jokes (he has no joke file) and goal setting (you should be able to make standup within 7 years work).
--CHRIS ROCK: On the importance of writing NEW jokes to take any comedy career to the next level.
--ROSEANNE & JERRY SEINFELD: The importance being disciplined to constantly write down ideas (on anything even napkins), jokes, concepts and then sit down and translate those ideas into actual performable material.
--GARY SHANDLING: Persistance. He bombed for 5 years but never gave up.
The third section is especially useful since managers, club owners and agents tell what they seek in a comedian. Talent Agent Irv Arthur, among other things, notes the importance of total preparation to be ready for the big break when it comes.
This superb book, especially if read together with Greg Dean's wonderful Step By Stepto Standup Comedy (also available on Amazon), could save aspiring comedians years of frustration and tears....and it tips off civilians to what's really lurking behind the curtain of that comedy wizard of the Oz called "the comedy club."
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d018c6c) out of 5 stars Must Read for Standup Practitioners 27 Aug. 2004
By AZHAR USMAN - Published on
Format: Paperback
Any comedy junkie knows that most of the books written on standup just plain stink. Whereas Judy Carter's "Standup Comedy-The Book" is a decent read, it is of course extremely dated now (screams 1980s homogeneous comedy club standup!) and is far too formulaic for most comics. Greg Dean's book is far better than Carter's; however, Dean suffers from being too quantitative in his approach to and understanding of comedy. His book can help one appreciate joke theory, but will do little--practically speaking--to help polish a mediocre comic. My favorite book on standup generally is definitely Jay Sankey's "Zen and the Art of Standup Comedy." It is an excellent read, jam packed with highly practical insights and suggestions about how to truly become a good comic. That said, what Sankey's book lacks in terms of insights from the living comedic masters themselves Ajaye's book more than makes up for. Larry Wilde did it in 1968 with the greatest comic legends of the 1950s and 1960s, and Ajaye did it again with the greatest comics of the 1980s and 1990s. In fact, Ajaye's book is superior to Wilde's in at least two respects. First, Ajaye has included his own highly refined tips and suggestions about how to become a good comic, which Wilde has no trace of. Ajaye's thoughts are so highly structured and logically organized that it is no wonder he is putting that NYU law school education to good use after all. Secondly, Ajaye's interviews are, at times, more revealing and more helpful than Wilde's because Ajaye is a serious practitioner of the art of standup himself, whereas Wilde--though he is undoubtedly America's best-selling humorist--is still just a humorist. A humorist does not a comedian make. If you want to know what makes good comedians become great, read Franklyn Ajaye's book. You won't be disappointed.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d01b06c) out of 5 stars Somber Study of Comedy 11 Dec. 2002
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
In the first fifty pages Ajaye provides strongly written advise worth reading several times over particularly if you are well into the process of performing. How to study your favorite comics and still be true to your self is an outstanding section.
As comics write and talk about stand up comedy business, the struggles to break into a living wage level are displayed as mind numbing. The world is full of people that are tearing you down for their own entertainment both on and off the stage. Your desire to succeed must be massive to overcome the grinding down. For each and everyone comic that has opened up, they have described standup as really hard work. This book may depress you if you are thinking about a life in comedy. This is not a motivational book. It is more of a get tough or get out road map. Entertaining the reader does not happen in this book.
One great insight in the Richard Jeni interview is worth the price of the book. There are three equal parts to performing your own material: written construction, body gestures and facial expression. You have to work on all three with equal commitment.
Interviewing the very successful comedians is very smart. The 17 famous comedian interviews could have been the heart and soul of the book. The interviews should have been better written. With his incredible access to famous comedians Ajaye blew this chance to work at creating a classic on comedy. Where is the editor? My point is the following. In the book Success Secrets of the Motivational by Michael Jeffreys the author gets deep into the mind and art of each interviewee's work. He then edited it down to a very powerfully written book. With loads of exact quotes-each carrying great poignancy. In Ajaye's defense, I suspect that the interviews are lightly edited to remain true to the interview. It is still the lessor skill compared to a strongly worked book. Who wants to read court testimony? Where's the Beef? I hope Ajaye takes another shot at writing another book.
If you are already funny you want to read this book. It would not be my first recommendation. My rank order follows: 1. Judy Carter's The Comedy Bible 2. Step by Step to Stand Up Comedy by Greg Dean and 3. Did I Ever Tell You About the Time by Grady Jim Robinson. Fourth would be this book. The first book is critical to developing the foundation on how to write stand up.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d01b030) out of 5 stars Very general. The interviews weren't mind blowing either. 29 Mar. 2013
By Tanner Hoke - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The interviews were what really attracted me to buy it. The questions seemed to get a little scatterbrained. Less about teaching us how to perform, more like us reading a conversation about women apparently aren't funny. The book has two parts: one is a very simple tutorial of stand up and two is the interviews. That's it. I don't recommend this to anyone looking to an extensive guide to comedy (something I expected in a BOOK).
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d01b018) out of 5 stars Not for Advice 16 Nov. 2013
By WB - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are looking for a book with pointers on how to get into comedy and how to write better bits, this book is not for you. I'll save you the time of reading the book and tell you that there are only two real pieces of advice in this book: Number 1 - Outline. Like what you did back in high school. This actually helped me, but was hardly worth the price of the book. The other lesson was that the only way to get experience is to get up on stage. True, but once again, not worth the price of the book.

If you're just looking for interviews with comedians, on the other hand, this book will leave you satisfied.
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