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The Everything Guide to Comedy Writing (Everything Series) Paperback – 25 Sep 2009

3.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Adams; Original edition (25 Sept. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1605501689
  • ISBN-13: 978-1605501680
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 1.7 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 806,855 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Michael Bent started performing stand-up comedy when he was 16 at the famous Ding Ho comedy club in Cambridge Massachusetts. He has performed at comedy clubs and colleges throughout the United States, and has performed at the prestigious Montreal Comedy Festival. His television appearances include spots on NBC, ABC, CBS, HBO, Showtime, Comedy Central and A&E. He teaches comedy writing at Boston's Emerson College, and is a comedy consultant for Warner Brothers.


Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am something of a student of comedy writing, although my only actual comedy 'performance' so far (well, the only one that did not involve my ex-wife and her copy of the 'The Modern Kama Sutra' anyway) was a stand-up routine / unmitigated disaster which, judging by my audience's reaction, could easily have seen me rather violently shuffling off this mortal coil - thank god I had the good sense to wear shoes I could actually run in that night.

I do intend to return to stand-up very soon though (in a different venue, obviously). This book is the latest addition to my comedy-writing library and, although it does attempt (rather half-heartedly in some instances) to take a look at a broad spectrum of comedy-writing outlets, it was the sections relating to stand-up I was especially interested in. However, it is an American book, so I can't say I would recognise most of the comedy writers mentioned, even if I fell over them. Mind you, I suppose it might get a big laugh. The list of Comedy Clubs in the United States is also ever so slightly superfluous.

The book's primary goal seems to be to combine two statements that appear, at least at first glance, to be totally contradictory. First, that 'everyone can be funny - you just need to find your own style'... and second, that 'it is impossible to teach someone to be funny'. Oh... does that mean I wasted my money here then?

No, far from it. We are, all of us, funny - that's the point. We just need to identify the best way in which to showcase it, that's all. That's what the purpose of this book seems to be. To provide us with a few exercises designed to really train our brains to see the world from a fresh, exciting and (hopefully!
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I don't think you should buy this unless you've already wrote a lot of stuff. To me it is a guide to getting stage time and is a very nice read anyway. It's American, so God knows who the comedians interviewed are - but very interesting, and probably helpful to unfunny people/funny people who are too stupid to write.
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Format: Paperback
I think if you want to write observational stand-up comedy this book is not a bad way to start. It has lists of things for you to write in your note book when you are say, in a waiting room (which is the example he uses), lots of questions for you to ask about any situation, and lists of things for you to contrast. It doesn't tell you how to write jokes, (the author doesn't believe you can teach people to be funny) but it does try and guide you in how to look at things differently. Hence the observational nature of the material you might produce. I think it might have started out as a book about stand-up rather than writing comedy because there chapters on becoming a stand-up and even on dealing with hecklers, and interviews with stand-ups in every chapter, yet only one chapter on writing sit-coms and one on movies - that both bizarrely include interviews with stand-ups with nothing to do with the rest of the chapter. It is a tad general but like I said, if you want to write observational comedy it has an interesting approach.
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This book says on page 6.`It's impossible to teach someone to be funny. It just can't be done.' Instead the author assumes you must have some funny bones and doesn't really attempt to get down the nuts and bolts of comic writing. He tells the reader to brainstorm, to make lists ask questions but never takes it further to the specifics of turning anything into humour. I did like some of the questions and lists but I think a lot of readers would need more encouragement. He also pads the book out with chapters on styles of stand-up and sketches etc which are really just discussion with only a paragraph at the end telling the reader to brainstorm ideas. If you want to write a sitcom, search `sitcom' on this website, same for `joke writing', same for `sketches'and see what else is out there. This book might be okay for the general reader to whom brainstorming is a new concept and comedy has just landed from another planet. But others might need something more specific.
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I am not into comedy, but bought this for my son who says it is excellent.
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