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The Serious Guide to Joke Writing: How To Say Something Funny About Anything Paperback – 1 Nov 2010
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From the Author
This book (and my courses) came about because I wanted to get down to the nuts and bolts of teaching how to actually construct a joke. So I tackle it head on with exercises that produce jokes and examples of jokes written that way. The reader can actually watch jokes being born. Since I've been teaching joke writing I've had emails from all over the world asking when I will be teaching in their area. This book brings my class to you, you can follow each week, do the exercises, do the homework, see how the rest of the class have done and then look at the troubleshooting guide. The theory chapters can be read at any time to give you encouragement and make you realise that creativity is a process that we can all do, we are all the same. There is also a case study (where you follow me writing jokes on a difficult subject on a deadline) and a chapter about honing to show you what to do with all those beautiful ideas that this book will help you produce. If you are serious about writing jokes, The Serious Guide to Joke Writing is for you. Thanks for reading.
About the Author
Sally Holloway, who in eleven years on the comedy circuit became one of Britain's top female comics now uses these skills to teach both new and up and coming comedians. The book is based on her innovative joke writing courses that have already been showcased nationally on Radio 4's Word of Mouth program, the British Society of Comedy Writers' conferences and at the Edinburgh Festival. Apart from her own courses she has taught at London's famous City Lit Institute, at Jacksons Lane Community Centre, The Actors Centre and Dartford Arts Centre, as well as being a comedy mentor on the TV program I WANT 2 B COMEDY and a was tutor on the ACME Comedy Writing Course for Amused Moose in both London and Edinburgh.
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This book is very much focused on the "Joke" part of writing, it will teach you how to be able to write jokes as "He had the sex drive of an animal- unfortunately it was a panda". Which is a fine joke, but if you want to start developing a stand-up routine, this would be a good, soft start and then you would start to develop your own comedy on your own or seek advice from another book. The back of the book promises to learn techniques to write funny and original material for ten different scenarios, such as Stand-up comedy and political satire. While that is true, it also promises Comedy sketches, sitcom scripts and Cartoons (as in the single frame kind, the new yorker) and comic-strips. The book spends about four pages on these topics and quickly goes on. If you want to learn more about these, then this book is not for you.
However, this is a great book for people who have never written comedy before. Even the most boring individual could read this book, follow along and create some funny jokes. For truely honing your comedy writing, search elsewhere.
In this book you get deconstructions of jokes, how they work, what happens if you change them around. How you can build on them or allude to the punchline later for extra laughs. This is a very good book. I have read a lot of books on comedy writing and I wrote about 5 pages of gags (half page of really good stuff) the first time I serious got to grips with the concepts in the book. I should qualify that by saying that I have previously written jokes and routines but this book sets things out in such a clear manner that it takes the banging your head against the wall element and almost eliminates it- you'll always get blocked, but if you want comedy to be your trade this book is well worth your money
Other books, of a similar ilk fall short because they are too focused on the way the author's mind works, which isn't necessarily the same as the reader.
Sally Holloway is different, she defines a series of joke mining processes, to find and develop your material. She has a troubleshooting section at the end of each process, that's easy to relate to.
Every other chapter, she points out typical writing challenges faced by her and other comics. So you don't give up just because your beautifully crafted gag, hasn't appeared after half an hours work.
This is someone who has not only performed stand up comedy but more importantly has literally years of experience teaching the art of writing comedy material. As you explore each technique, you can watch the thought process as she cleverly weaves in transcripts from one of her courses. This can at times be a little tedious, however if it's not relevent it's easy to skip to the next section, without feeling you've missed anything.
So, would I recommend this book? Yes, absolutely. For me it's the best joke writing book I have ever read; but be warned, once you get started, you'll find yourself waking in the night, desperate to get all the ideas popping into your head down on paper.
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