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The Serious Guide to Joke Writing: How To Say Something Funny About Anything Paperback – 1 Nov 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Bookshaker; 1st edition (1 Nov. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1907498370
  • ISBN-13: 978-1907498374
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.2 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 55,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

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.


Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As a relative newcomer to stand up comedy, I've always struggled to write material. Fellow comics have always explained that good gags are mostly the product of hard work; but when you're looking at a blank page, even if you have a few basic ideas, where do you begin?

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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Format: Paperback
Short review: This is a really useful book. Buy it.

Longer review: This is a really useful book. Buy it because it's very easy to read, handily divided into chapters on `theory' and `practical' so you can use it in a way that suits your mood and your current needs. Sally writes in a friendly and conversational style that gives you the feeling you're actually present on her joke writing course (not bad for less than £12) and she sprinkles her text with relevant quotations from famous comedians to give extra inspiration.

There are plenty diagrams, for example of `joke webs' which are her special joke-writing tool for generating ideas. It really helps to see examples drawn out so that you can start to write your own. There are also sections on what results her students came up with from her exercises so you can compare your own ideas with theirs.

I also like the fact that this is a comedy writing book from a British author. So many comedy guides are American and although they have their value, the American sensibility and turn of phrase is different, and if you're British and want to write for a UK audience it's nice to have something rooted in British culture. I'd definitely recommend this book. My only quibble is maybe it needs a slightly funkier cover.

And finally: Here's a joke idea I came up with after reading the chapter on puns (don't groan, they are great warm ups and can lead on to proper jokes too) and then letting my mind do some `Background Processing', another of Sally's top tips:

"I was having a drink with Britain's Most Haunted's Derek Acorah today when he heard he'd won the lottery. He was pondering how to spend the money. All on himself, give it all to charity, 50-50? Anyway, he asked my advice. I thought about it a bit then I punched him in the face. I felt it was necessary to strike a happy medium."

Happy joke writing!
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Format: Paperback
I've read quite a few books that supposedly teach you how to write comedy but in the end they're often just a tiresome compendium of the author's anecdotes of (once) working in the industry. This book is different. It's totally focused on getting you writing from the get-go and there are lots of different exercises to try and inspire you. Some worked better than others for me but it's worth the price of the book for the Joke Webs section alone. I love this method!!

Even if you think you have no idea how to start writing gags this book seems to show you a way to get started - after that it's all up to you to keep going. Although it's main focus appears to be writing material for stand-up or topical shows there's quite a bit of good advice that'll help with writing a sitcom (which is my main area of interest). The only thing I wasn't too keen on was some of the drawings in the book - particularly the weird geriatric hands!! (when you read the book you'll see what I mean).

Alongside Evan S. Smith's Writing Television Sitcoms, an indispensable book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very useful guide to the art of Joke Writing, as it says. It covers the basics, what Jokes are. How they can be constructed, it goes on to explain in detail how jokes can be brainstormed, then written, then refined. A lot of the time the difference in a joke being funny and falling flat lies in the rhythm and the direct distillation of the idea in the clearest and simplest form. Just as in song-writing you need the EXACT right words.

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
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